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Diary of a Witness Hardcover – August 25, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up—Ernie and Will stick together to minimize or deflect the regular bullying aimed at them by a cruel group of five jocks. Ernie's mom and his Uncle Max provide a caring support system, but the boy is overweight. Will is lanky with bad skin and a mother who left him and his younger brother, Sam, with an alcoholic father. The friends enjoy fishing together until the day Sam drowns when their boat capsizes. Will's feelings of guilt about his brother's death and sadness about parental neglect cause him to attempt suicide. Luckily, perceptive Ernie recognizes his friend's signals and intervenes in the nick of time. Despite these circumstances, the bullies continue their harassment, until Will has had enough and plans to get even with a gun. Ernie and Will are sympathetically drawn characters who just want peace, one another's friendship, and the little joy that comes their way. Like Gray in Nancy Garden's Endgame (Harcourt, 2006) and Brett in Patrick Jones's Nailed (Walker, 2006), Will faces challenging family relationships plus the torment of bullies, and reaches a breaking point where he strikes back to end the pain. The open-ended conclusion offers readers hope that he gets the help he needs, and leaves them with a great respect for Ernie as he chooses to do what is right.—Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO END

About the Author

Catherine Ryan Hyde’s young adult novels include Becoming Chloe, The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance, and The Day I Killed James. She lives in California. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 510L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (August 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375856846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375856846
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,256,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 30 published and forthcoming books, including WORTHY, THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS, TAKE ME WITH YOU, WHERE WE BELONG, WHEN I FOUND YOU, WALK ME HOME, SECOND HAND HEART, DON'T LET ME GO, and WHEN YOU WERE OLDER. New Kindle editions of her backlist titles FUNERALS FOR HORSES, EARTHQUAKE WEATHER AND OTHER STORIES, ELECTRIC GOD, and WALTER'S PURPLE HEART are now available. Also available is THE LONG, STEEP PATH: EVERYDAY INSPIRATION FROM THE AUTHOR OF PAY IT FORWARD, her first book-length creative nonfiction.

An avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, she has just released her first book of photos, 365 DAYS OF GRATITUDE: PHOTOS FROM A BEAUTIFUL WORLD.

She is co-author, with publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE: A SELF-HELP GUIDE.

Her best-known novel, PAY IT FORWARD, was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries. The paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller. Simon & Schuster released PAY IT FORWARD: YOUNG READERS' EDITION in August of '14. It is suitable for kids as young as eight. A special Fifteenth Anniversary Edition of the original PAY IT FORWARD was released in December of '14

LOVE IN THE PRESENT TENSE enjoyed bestseller status in the UK, where it broke the top ten, spent five weeks on the bestseller lists, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year award at the British Book Awards. Both BECOMING CHLOE and JUMPSTART THE WORLD were included on the ALA's Rainbow List, and JUMPSTART THE WORLD was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. WHERE WE BELONG won two Rainbow Awards in 2013.

More than 50 of her short stories have been published in The Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train and many other journals, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog is my Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O'Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.

She is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation, and still serves on its board of directors. As a professional public speaker she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with Americorps members at the White House and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

For more information, please visit the author at catherineryanhyde.com

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Cathe VINE VOICE on August 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ernie, the narrator, is an overweight teen and the target of school jocks. He spends his days at high school trying to stay out of their way. His friend Will, on other hand, seems to go out of his way to antagonize the bullies. To make matters worse, Will is having serious problems at home -- his brother dies on a fishing trip and his death was partially caused by Will's actions. As Will sinks into depression and then rage, Ernie has to make some tough choices.

I'm always happy to find a YA from a boy's point of view because it seems most are centered around girls and issues girls can relate to. This is well written and moves fast with lots of suspense. Both guys and girls will relate to the dynamics of school, bullies, and friendship. There is no sex or language so it's appropriate for younger teens. Great book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By The Compulsive Reader VINE VOICE on December 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ernie and his friend Will are outcasts at their school, teased mercilessly every day for being different and for Ernie, overweight. They have each other, so they manage to endure it, but Will especially hates those that torment them. Then, when Will's younger brother dies tragically, he is plagued with guilt and anger. Suddenly, it's not as easy to shrug off the teasing, and Ernie is left to observe as Will cracks and desperately tries to fight back the only way he knows how.

This strikingly realistic book is told in journal-format from Ernie's perspective. It's descriptive in all of the appropriate areas, but otherwise is blunt, concise, and to the point. Ernie's conversational tone makes the story easy to read and become invested into the story, even for reluctant readers. The male point of view is done well, and it makes you quite sympathetic towards Ernie. His struggles with bullying and losing weight, despite the opposition he faces at home, and his confusion at how to help Will, and his happy moments are all very authentic and heart-wrenching, especially as Will gets into more and more trouble despite Ernie's attempts at helping him. This book has been compared to Jennifer Brown's Hate List, but it is different in the fact that Hyde focuses more on what exactly would drive a teen to the breaking point and how what others might consider teasing and simple joking could have such an intense and damaging effect on someone. Diary of a Witness is yet another excellent, attention-grabbing read from Catherine Ryan Hyde.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on January 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Gold Star Award Winner!

Ernie lives with his mother. She loves him dearly and provides well for him, but practically every day is a living nightmare for Ernie. He's a loner, interested in videos games and not sports, and at about 100 pounds overweight, he's the object of ridicule from his fellow classmates.

For Ernie school days are torture. Teachers seem to turn a blind eye when he is made the butt of every joke. There are five jocks that have made Ernie their special target. In the hallway between classes and in the locker room before and after gym, they tease and taunt and play endless pranks. When opportunities arise to report the pranksters, Ernie always senses that if he does complain his tormentors will only find ways to make his life more miserable.

Ernie does have one friend. His name is Will, and he constantly promises that he has Ernie's back. Will is skinny and suffers from chronic acne, which makes him another frequent target for the jocks. Since his mother left, he and his younger brother have lived with a father more interested in finding his next beer than in raising his two sons. Together, Ernie and Will help each other through the agonizing world of their small town high school.

After a fishing trip that ends in tragedy, the teasing and taunting of the two teens increases. The attacks are more deliberate and result in potentially dangerous injuries. Ernie can't bring himself to discuss the problem with his mother, but he finds some comfort and release in writing about the incidents in a journal given to him by his uncle. Will, now living with his mother since the fateful fishing trip, reacts in more negative ways that have Ernie worrying about Will's sanity and safety.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By imaloserdude on November 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
How do you deal with bullies who make every day at school a nightmare, especially when you're very, very fat? Obese.

How do you deal with bullies who target you for fun, especially when you are overly thin and have horrible acne? Ugly.

Ernie and Will live in fear each day, forced to go to high school, but not enjoying it. Teachers don't seem to notice the bullying, are unable to prevent it, and do little when it becomes obvious. Classmates laugh when the bullies make fun of and trip and torment these two boys. It's a sad, confusing world found in most American high schools, one we wish didn't exist, but all kids must go through to reach adulthood.

Hyde did an excellent job of appealing to a wide audience of male readers, posing opposites throughout. A child raised by their single mother and one raised by a single father. A boy who loves to fish in the ocean and one who enjoys fresh-water fishing. A boy with a little brother he hates and an only child. A fat kid and a skinny kid. A boy who speaks his mind and one who never says anything.

But the bullying leads from fear to anger, and friendship is tested as one must make a decision. Do I intervene? How? Read this book and find out...
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