My Own Personal Tormentor

By Jarrett Dapier

The books on this list feature characters tormented by bullies. Bullies can manifest in various forms: they can be siblings, peers, parents, even (or maybe especially) other teens who are themselves victims of bullies. In each of these raw, funny, sometimes terrifying books, our hero turns the experience of being bullied on its head and changes his or her life for the better—but sometimes for the worse.

  • Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

    2013 by Meg Medina

    Meg Medina has emerged as one of the freshest and rawest new voices in YA literature. In Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass, she tells the story of Piddy Sanchez, a girl with strong grades and a physical appearance she refuses to apologize for. Piddy has been marked for a beating by a gang of girls she's never met. Her downward spiral of psychological and physical torment causes her to change in shocking ways and this story is wrought with realistic details and a real sense of dread.

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  • Whale Talk

    2001 by Chris Crutcher

    When athletically gifted, rebel-hearted, and sharp-tongued senior Tao Jones witnesses football players roughing up a boy with Down Syndrome, he vows to help him and other "losers" like him form a swim team at their school. The school has no pool, however, and the ragtag bunch of outcasts who sign up are going to need some serious work if they're ever going to win a meet. Full of humor and tense confrontations with racist bullies, Whale Talk sports an unforgettable cast of characters and a blistering ending.

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  • Gutless

    2016 by Carl Deuker

    Ninth grader Brock has a problem: on the soccer field and now on the football team, he'd rather drop the ball than take of a hit. Brock also stands by in silence as his friend, budding designer/engineer and surprise star kicker Richie Fang, is mercilessly bullied by the other guys on the football team. Brock's secret cowardice is eating him alive. This fast-moving book hurtles toward a shocking conclusion that forces Brock to face down his own gutlessness once and for all. Carl Deuker is expert at writing sports fiction with deeper themes and this one hits hard.

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  • The Weight of Water

    2012 by Sarah Crossan

    Written in verse that flows like a river, Sarah Crossan's book is the story of Kasienka, a 12-year-old who recently emigrated from Poland to England in search of her missing father. In this new land, she endures isolation and suffers ceaseless taunts from the girls she meets at school. Kasienka finds solace in swimming, a kind neighbor, and a boy she meets at the pool. Crossan's writing rings with sadness as Kasienka struggles to adapt to a cold, new world.

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  • Wringer

    1997 by Jerry Spinelli

    When Palmer LaRue turns eleven he will become a "wringer"—one of the boys charged with snapping the necks of injured birds during his town's annual Pigeon Day Shoot. What he can't tell his friends or parents is, he is disgusted by this rite of passage and it hurts his soul to think of it. When Palmer adopts a pigeon that lands on his windowsill the fissure between him and his friends grows deeper. Spinelli's tale gets at the tyranny of the crowd and explores how risky and lonely it can be to stand up for what you believe is right. Full of beautiful writing and strange imagery, this is a book I've read more than twice.

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  • Twisted

    2007 by Laurie Halse Anderson

    Tyler is framed for filming a naked, unconscious girl at a party and as a result his school and family life spin out of control. He becomes a social pariah, suspected of perversion by his friends and even his own father. Like Anderson's first novel, Speak, this is a book about a teen's descent into a world of isolation, humiliation, self-loathing, and pain. It's also about how oppressive and damaging the idea of masculinity—handed down through generations of family abuse, media imagery, and sexual violence—can be on young men. This book packs an emotional punch that left me staggering, but it does so through a funny, wry, fast-moving plot and a likable, believable character.

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  • Burn : a novel

    2008 by Suzanne Phillips

    Cameron is bullied ceaselessly during his freshman year. When his tormentors sexually assault him in the locker room, he responds days later by lashing out at a much smaller, physically weaker boy who witnessed the attack. Suzanne Phillips digs deep into Cameron's psyche, showing us how violence is a contagion, passing from individual to individual like a deadly virus. This is the most searing, effective account of violent bullying I've ever read.

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  • Dear Bully : Seventy authors tell their stories


    This anthology culls the stories of 70 different authors who experienced bullying or were bullies themselves at some point in their lives. The stories are written in verse, prose, and graphic form and differ in length. It's a book for anyone experiencing the wretched loneliness and fear caused by bullying. It offers sympathetic voices, visions of hope, and familiar situations to help the reader feel less alone.

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  • Jumped

    2011 by Rita Williams-Garcia

    When Leticia overhears Dominique's plan to jump Trina at day's end, she must decide whether or not to get involved. Should she warn Trina even though she doesn't like her? Rita Williams-Garcia's urgent, fierce YA novel delves deep into the minds of each girl, showing how each one suffers in her own particular way. It asks us to think about our responsibility and role as bystanders to violence. If we know something bad is going to go down—something that might destroy another person's life—is it our business? How could it not be?

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