Jennifer Wardrip's Reviews > Bullyville

Bullyville by Francine Prose
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Oct 09, 08

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Reviewed by Rebecca Wells for

When Bart Rangely's absentee father is caught in the North Tower and killed on September 11th, he thinks that life can't get much worse.

Unfortunately, he thinks too soon.

Because of the public nature of his tragedy, Bart is offered a scholarship to the exclusive Baileywell Academy, an institution better known to its students as "Bullywell" for the rampant bullying that takes place behind its expensive doors.

Upon his arrival, Bart is assigned his own personal tormentor, Tyro Bergen, and his life descends into hell. But when he tries to retaliate, and is assigned volunteer work at a hospital for punishment, he finds a friend in an unlikely place, and discovers that sometimes a bully is hiding more from the world than his venom, and that things are not always
precisely what they seem.

The idea most compelling to me in BULLYVILLE is the world of the bullied, a world all but invisible to the adults responsible for the safety of its inhabitants. It is easy to imagine the story descending quickly into darkness and remaining there for the duration of the book.

Instead, Francine Prose presents a story that is at its core violence and personal disaster while still maintaining an uplifting tone. Bart Rangely is a funny, charming protagonist who keeps the story light even when dealing with its most serious concepts. I enjoyed Bart's tale immensely, and anyone who has been touched by bullying will identify with his dilemma.


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