From Publishers Weekly
An entertainment industry publicist before becoming an antibullying crusader, Blanco (Please Stop Laughing at Me) was a victim of bullying from fifth grade through high school. For Blanco, bullying is a broad term-it's not "just the mean things you do, it's all the nice things you never do." For her, even the Columbine shootings were a result of students marginalized by bullying. She offers many stories of tearful children who have been the subject of abuse, and offers her own advice to thwart and/or deal with bullying, but in the end, she doesn't truly persuade readers that her remedies are effective. As an "Adult Survivor of Peer Abuse," her personal experience gives her all the insight she thinks she needs-it's only "clinical experts" who need theories and evidence ("there are clinical experts who might scoff at me for trying to give comfort and guidance"). She retells frequently the story of how she overcame-and forgave-her own bullies at her 20th high school reunion. Her former tormentors just seem to have decided to accept her after 20 years: a happy ending, but hardly a winning strategy for a troubled teen today. Blanco tells readers she has counseled countless students, victims and bullies alike, and while her stories are dramatic, neither the dialogue nor the instant results seem authentic. Readers looking for advice based on concrete fieldwork should turn to Wiseman's Queen Bees and Wannabes. (Mar.)
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Blanco bared her soul in her memoir, Please Stop Laughing at Me (2003), delving into the years of abuse she suffered as a teen at the hands of high-school bullies. Here, she chronicles her efforts as a youth advocate and public speaker. After her first book hits the New York Times best-seller list, Blanco finds herself in demand at schools who want to bring her in as a speaker to help them combat bullying. Blanco does more than give moving presentations at the schools she visits; she takes the time to meet with students, teachers, and parents one-on-one to give them advice on their individual situations. In addition to recounting her efforts at the schools she visits, Blanco also reveals the struggles she faces in her personal life: the toll of reliving her painful past, her newfound friendships with her former high-school tormentors, and her burgeoning relationship with a former classmate. Essential reading for teens, parents, and educators, Blanco’s second outing is as engaging as it is eye-opening. --Kristine Huntley
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