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As a mom, I'm sick of bullies running amok in middle school books
on June 15, 2015
This book has some good points - the main character Jamie is likeable. He is starting to work on being a comedian. A lot of readers are disappointed with the quality of the jokes, but that's realistic for a kid just starting out - a lot of the jokes will be taken from joke books or other acts. He is continuing to develop his skills in the second books (I haven't read the third yet.)
I had a hard time forgetting how tragic Jamie's backstory was, which kept me from enjoying the lighter moments.
My big problem with the book, and with all the other middle school oriented books my 9 yo daughter and I are reading, is that bullies run amok. No one ever hauls these kids in for discipline, suspension, or other punishments. The bully in this book (Jamie's cousin Stevie) is the worst I have seen yet on several levels. First, Jamie is living with him, so he is tortured at home and school. Secondly, Jamie is physically unable to counter the bully. But most importantly, the bully commits fairly serious acts of battery against Jamie and then threatens to kill him if he tells.
This is absolutely unacceptable, authors! Even the adults miss some pretty obvious clues Jamie needs more protection. Jamie's uncle finds him laying on the beach, with his wheelchair gone, with no sand tracks around him, so it's obvious he was thrown there. Jamie is afraid to say what happened, and nobody pursues this.
What kind of message does this give kids? Over and over, it's telling them that they have to work things out with bullies on their own. We need to see more of the bullies in these books ending up where they belong: in juvenile detention centers.