Bully by Penelope Douglas

We’ve got neighbors. We’ve got friends who become enemies, who then become something more. This book checks off so many of my boxes it’s not even funny.

What’s it About?

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My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he’ll barely even speak to me. But he still won’t leave me alone. We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life.

I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him. But I’m done hiding from him now, and there’s no way in hell I’ll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It’s time to fight back. I’m not going to let him bully me anymore.

Building a Bully

Yes, this novel is definitely a high school romance. However, it also takes a fascinating look at the cause and effects of bullying. At the beginning, we see how Jared’s pranks and antics against Tate have driven her to want to escape. So she does. She spends her junior year of high school in France. When she returns, she realizes it’s time to stand up to him, and to not let others put her down. But how does this influence Tate’s own personality?

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By standing up for herself against anyone who gets in her way, Tate starts to straddle the line of becoming a bully as well. Sure, she says some kick-ass zingers that make most of us envious. What could be more satisfying than having the ultimate come-back? But now she too is starting to put others down, and even though it’s against Jared we see that “this is how bullies are made.” In a way, bullies beget bullies.

Leaving Hatred Behind

But that’s not all! At the start of the novel, we as the audience are set and determined to hate Jared. He’s a bully who has taken things way too far. As the novel progresses though, we realize that Jared didn’t always act this way. Once upon a time, he was Tate’s best friend who helped her cope after her mother’s death. But then something changed. By the end of the novel, you find yourself shocked to discover that you could possibly consider sympathizing with a bully.

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Series: Fall Away, book 1. I’ll keep going with this series.

Should you read it? At times it was kind of difficult to accept Jared as something other than a bully. It almost seemed as though there was an attempt to excuse his bullying behavior because of his tragic past. It’s true that what happened to him was awful, but it was also sad that he chose to push Tate away instead of pull her closer.

Smut Level: For a high school romance, this book gets pretty steamy! Nothing like sneaking into your neighbor’s bedroom window. And then into the bed itself.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. InterMix Publishing. 337 Pages.

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