Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
Ernie lives with his mother. She loves him dearly and provides well for him, but practically every day is a living nightmare for Ernie. He's a loner, interested in videos games and not sports, and at about 100 pounds overweight, he's the object of ridicule from his fellow classmates.
For Ernie school days are torture. Teachers seem to turn a blind eye when he is made the butt of every joke. There are five jocks that have made Ernie their special target. In the hallway between classes and in the locker room before and after gym, they tease and taunt and play endless pranks. When opportunities arise to report the pranksters, Ernie always senses that if he does complain his tormentors will only find ways to make his life more miserable.
Ernie does have one friend. His name is Will, and he constantly promises that he has Ernie's back. Will is skinny and suffers from chronic acne, which makes him another frequent target for the jocks. Since his mother left, he and his younger brother have lived with a father more interested in finding his next beer than in raising his two sons. Together, Ernie and Will help each other through the agonizing world of their small town high school.
After a fishing trip that ends in tragedy, the teasing and taunting of the two teens increases. The attacks are more deliberate and result in potentially dangerous injuries. Ernie can't bring himself to discuss the problem with his mother, but he finds some comfort and release in writing about the incidents in a journal given to him by his uncle. Will, now living with his mother since the fateful fishing trip, reacts in more negative ways that have Ernie worrying about Will's sanity and safety.
DIARY OF A WITNESS addresses the growing problem of bullying in today's society. Catherine Ryan Hyde takes readers into the lives of two teens facing bullying on a daily basis. As with many victims of this increasing problem, they feel helpless to change their situations, which make them even more vulnerable to the vicious verbal and physical attacks. This emotionally charged novel will hopefully make readers take notice of and become more active in the prevention of the bullying behavior they witness in their communities.