Lisa Beaulieu's Reviews > My Friend Dahmer

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
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Apr 22, 2012

it was ok
Read in April, 2012

** spoiler alert ** This could have been a much more powerful book if Derf confronted his own cruelty more directly. He keeps pointing the finger at "the adults" but seems oblivious to how painful making another kid a joke-mascot might have been. There is a scene near the end where he and a friend use Dahmer for their amusement, and discuss right in front of Dahmer how they are going out to a movie together without Dahmer. I felt like throwing the book across the room at that point. It's not that Derf and his friends' behavior is unusual for teens, but that he could have made some poignant points about sensitivity, kindness and bullying, if he had been braver about looking at his own younger self.

Aside from missing this opportunity in his book, it is a fascinating and sad story. It certainly made me think about my own cruelties to others, while reminding the reader you never ever know how much small kindnesses may mean to another person. It also touches on the nature/nurture question, as Dahmer's mother had problems during her pregnancy with him, and the household, while forlorn, was certainly something many many other kids have weathered better than Dahmer did.

The most touching and tragic thing about the story is how Dahmer seems to have his horrible impulses from an early age, and fights them as best a lonely isolated child knows how. Until, of course, he doesn't.
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10/06/2016 marked as: read

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