Survival Guide to Bullying by Aiya Mayrock Book Review

The Survival Guide to Bullying: Written by a Teen by Aiya Mayrock
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: June 30, 2015

Bullying is a popular topic in children's books these days, both non-fiction and fiction. Perhaps it is because the idea of bullying is so universal. Even the bullies usually have their own torments and tormentors. My own bullies were those in my neighborhood, kids who thought my family was weird for whatever reasons (some more legit than others). Besides sibling spats, I have only been hit by two people in my life, both kids who lived a few houses down from me. By thirteen I retreated indoors, safe from my tormentors as long as I stayed inside and read my books. Thankfully, being homeschooled also saved me from having to attend the same school as my bullies, a blessing that didn't quite hit home until I read this book.

Aiya Mayrock is a teenager writing for kids. Her advice is sound, although often felt vague and simplistic. Tell a parent or teacher sounds great in theory, but what if your parent thinks you are just being a wuss? What if your principal or teachers won't listen? What if you secretly like the attention because it is the only social interaction you get in your day? In the documentary Bully, that is basically the existence for the main "character" who struggles with extreme bullying every day of his life. In fact, if the makers of the documentary had not stepped forward and shown their footage to the adults in this boy's life, things could have gotten much much worse. I was able to escape my bullies, and Aiya did too once her family moves, but there are so many kids who don't have that option.

All that said, I think this was well done. It is short and to the point with helpful ideas and pointers. The rap poems or "roems" that open each chapter are heartfelt although not terribly inspired. I suspect that this will improve with time as most art forms do. Reading this book brought back a lot of old thoughts and feelings and some pain. I admit I still hold some bitterness towards those people and wonder if they are now mean adults or did they learn the error of their ways? For kids going through this, I think this is a valuable resource and for some, it will be a game changer. Sometimes kids just need to shown solutions. Others need to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Mayrock does both of these things. She doesn't promise a world free of pain, but she does show a life in which a person is no longer ruled by their bullies. Sometimes that is enough.