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Bad Behaviour

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  464 ratings  ·  85 reviews
It should have been a time of acquiring confidence, building self respect and independence, of fostering a connection with the natural world through long hikes...

A gripping, compulsively readable memoir of bullying at an elite country boarding school.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 1st 2015 by Allen & Unwin
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Average rating 3.42  · 
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Mar 22, 2015 rated it liked it

As fourteen year old Rebecca Starford was driven to Silver Creek school by her Mum, she wondered why her parents were sending her to this boarding school. Twelve months she was destined to stay there – a place where all the students would learn to be confident, independent young adults – a place which was to influence the type of adults they would each become. The hikes through the bush, the mandatory runs and cross country days would educate them in becoming one with nature. The harsh envi
Michael Livingston
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Starford's memoir of her year spent at the country campus of a prestigious Victorian private school is a captivating read. The brutality of teenagers is a common enough theme in literature, but Starford draws it out expertly. The scenario - a year spent living in communal accommodation out in the Victorian bush - is ripe with tension and Starford is scathingly self-aware about the weakness and desperation of her 14 year old self. The sections of the book that flash forward to her adult life are ...more
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Like Rebecca I went to boarding school when I was 14. I remember arriving as vividly as she does - the drive from home in the car, the feelings of trepidation and nervousness. I remember what I was wearing and what we ate for dinner. Saying goodbye to mum and dad. Feeling very alone. My memory is poor about many things but I remember this well perhaps because this happened to be the time when I officially “left home”. I didn’t know that at the time, but that’s was the upshot of being sent away a ...more
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found the descriptions of high school social dynamics incredibly compelling. Really captured the power of wanting to belong and fit in at that age, and brought back many memories for me of my own high school and early uni experiences. Some quite chilling reading. The uni and adult experiences were less vivid to me, and I didn't feel fitted so well. Maybe I'd have preferred it if they were all at the end, rather than being interspersed through the book, which I felt broke up the incredible tens ...more
Helen King
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Note - 4.5 stars.

Oh my goodness. I went into the library today and saw this - and as I had a bit of time, I sat down to read it. An hour and a half later, I was finished. I've never done that before, but it was a compulsive read. As I read, I felt the knot in my stomach tighten. I've never experienced the extreme behaviour here (possibly - hopefully? - they were exaggerated for effect?), but I have felt similar emotions through school days - exclusions, bitchiness, the devastations when friends
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Said to be a memoir of bully and boarding school. But is also a young woman's awakening sexuality, poor family relations. Particularly between mother and daughter. Coming to terms with impulses that draw her to people who can and will harm her emotionally. She makes the school sound like a hell hole, Lord of the Flies. I have family who have, fortunately, had a much better experience in this school campus. One presumes Rebecca has not attended any school reunions. Will she one day? Will she reco ...more
So this book is pretty awesome. I went to a high school with a residential campus where they sent us in year 9, so there were some things that were so blindingly familiar and it almost could have been MY school. Except mine was girls only, and - at the time - a lot smaller. Also the time period seemed to be about the same; the pop culture references Rebecca mentioned in the school chapters were mostly from my own years 9-10 also... we totally had a poster of Jimmy Hird up in one house too!

My go
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Bec’s year spent at the renowned Silver Creek boarding school will be one that follows her for the rest of her life. After accepting a scholarship, the fourteen year-old is sent out to the Victorian Alps to live in close confines with 15 other girls, where they are encouraged to partake in hikes, cross country races and camping in between their classes. But it’s not just the physical demands that start to take its toll on these young girls; the mental games and verbal abuse that these teenagers ...more
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A boarding school memoir filled with breathtaking acts of cruelty and self-criticism:

'I just need to be careful,' I say. 'You know, with being naughty. I can't get in much more trouble.'

'Good luck with that,' Emma laughs. 'You're the worst girl in Red House.'

And moments of raw, affecting insight:

'I think of Father Wilson and his sermon. About how Silver Creek gives us the chance to see God in his Creation. But it isn't that; it isn't that at all. You don't see anything clearer up here: not the g
Deb Bodinnar
Apr 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Reading this made me thankful I never went to boarding school, even though I was threatened with it often enough. Mind you I think this kind of behaviour goes on within every school at some level.
Reannon Bowen
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. This book confused me. I kept waiting for something big to happen but it never did. Lots of small things happened, which I'm sure seemed huge to a 14 year old in boarding school, but I just didn't understand how this one year went on to define so much of her life? I felt the story was a bit disjointed in parts & that maybe there were things happening to form Rebecca's personality before she went away to school. ...more
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Bad Behaviour is Australian writer and editor Rebecca Starford's autobiography about a year spent at an elite alternative boarding school in the bush, that has a focus on physical activity and where all modern technology--phones, televisions etc are banned. Along with sixteen other girls, some of them quite badly behaved, some of them quite vulnerable, she was sent to stay in a self-governing and mostly unsupervised boarding house. The autobiography tells of some of the shocking incidents of bul ...more
Mar 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, arcs, memoir
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. 3.5 star rating.

This is a powerful memoir about bullying and how early experiences can shape who we become later in life. It's a story about the need to fit in and not be alone, as well as a story about finding yourself and being happy with who you are. This book follows the year Rebecca Starford spent at boarding school in Silver Creek and her experiences and relationships with the staff and the other girls in her house. The book begi
Natalie  S
Jan 28, 2015 rated it liked it
“Bad Behaviour” is Rebecca Starford’s debut book and memoir. Starford is well-known as the co-founder of the “Kill Your Darlings” journal. She is also a publisher at Affirm Press, a current contributor to “The Age” and “The Australian” newspapers and the former deputy editor of the “Australian Book Review”.

This book is a series of chapters from Starford’s life and it is primarily set in Geelong Grammar School’s Timbertop campus in 1998. In “Bad Behaviour”, Starford is brutally honest as she chro
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, general
Bad Behaviour is a confrontingly honest memoir about bullying and how the things we go through in our childhood can mark us well into our adult life, shaping who we become.

The whole time I was reading this book I felt anxious and slightly sick. Which sounds terrible, but is actually a huge compliment to Starford's abilities as a writer, perfectly reflecting what her younger self is feeling and going through. The writing in this memoir is flawless, effortlessly drawing us into the mind of the nar
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fascinating. Bad Behaviour covers Starford's year in an exclusive alternative boarding school in Australia. This was not prep school in the classic sense: students lived together in small groups with minimal supervision, were required to do long runs and hikes (culminating in week-long hikes and a full marathon at the end of the year), and had no phone or computer access on campus. If anything, it feels more like Deep Springs College than like Eton. (Can somebody please write a memoir about Deep ...more
Julie Twohig
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read Bad Behaviour in two sittings ~ my gauge of a thoroughly entertaining book. I'd been curious to read this memoir on a couple of fronts... To check out the new release that has received so much press, as well as to acquaint myself with a woman who has already made a mark for herself on Melbourne's literary and publishing fronts - a feat I always find impressive, especially with someone so young (more about me than Starford, I'm sure!)

Testimony to my rapid reading, Rebecca Starford's memoi
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Rebecca Starford was on a scholarship at a Melbourne private school which sent its Year 9 students to its country campus for a year. Starford's memoir tells of the bullying that was rife in the under supervised environment, where misbehaviour was punished by physical activity, and where she found herself weakly doing anything to be accepted as part of the cool group. Mean Girls to the extreme. Starford was also questioning her sexuality but had no one to talk to about this.
I wanted her to gain s
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Yikes. That was intense. I guess I admired that Rebecca told the story so honestly, not trying to diminish her responsibility in what happened. The bullying was pretty horrific. Also, I was very interested to read her explanations as to why it is that people become complicit in cruel behaviour, even if they don't instigate it. I think everyone eventually gets involved in a situation like this, where one person starts bullying someone and several others go along with it, either through exclusion ...more
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
The true story of Rebecca's journey of self discovery from trying to fit in at an exclusive rural boarding school to understanding and accepting her own sexuality. Bad behaviour deals with everyone's deepest desire - to be accepted. Themes of bullying and being bullied are explored as well as body image and sexuality.

I didn't really like 14 year old Rebecca, but then I don't think she really liked herself at that point either. I could relate to her weaknesses at that age, not having the strengt
Katie Haden
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
the only terrible thing about this book is that it's a true story: the viciousness of the bullying is awful to imagine as anything but fiction.

I read this in almost a single sitting, which is rare for me, because I have the attention span of a goldfish. it's so compelling! it's easy as adults to dismiss the complexity of relationships that are formed between teen girls, but this book captures the intensity and almost desperate addiction to approval from peers as a teenager. it's also a great de
Aaron Nugara
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca Starford at a special guest lecture she gave at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Given that some of the events/conflicts which occur in her memoir Bad Behaviour are still unresolved to this day, it was endearing to hear her speak about the importance of moving forward in life, even when it is incredibly painful to do so. As a decidedly candid memoir, the majority of the topics written about are quite personal; intense bullying, lesbianism, maternal abandonmen ...more
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great read! The level of bullying and the strict, disciplinarian environment at this school really shocked me. I was wondering throughout the book whether I would have coped with this environment at the age of 14, and whether I would have acted in the same way as this author did. The author has written a very honest portrayal of the social dynamics at this school and about her role in the bullying that went on in her house at the school. I also enjoyed the scenes about her life when she was olde ...more
What impressed me most about this disturbing account of bullying was the author's honesty. She didn't paint herself as being one of the 'good guys'but showed herself to be weak and needy. For the most part she was a pack follower but her desperate need to be accepted into the alpha group (who were the instigators of the bullying) lead her into bad behaviour.

Interesting to read about the author as an adult who still needed to be accepted and worried about what others thought of her.

I feel many re
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this book because I heard a great interview with author, Rebecca Starford, by Richard Fidler on Radio National. I found the stories of her time at boarding school compelling and haunting. What I found most interesting about this memoir is that Rebecca, while not the ringleader, owns up to her role in the bullying culture of the school, a perspective we rarely hear about. By shining a light into the dynamics of teen relationships in the schoolyard, it contributes to our understanding of th ...more
Philip Mccauley
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
A well written book in a style of writing that is very easy to read, had trouble putting it down until I had finished. Gives a good insight into growing up trying to fit in with others, the bullying that can go on in adolescence and the consequences that it can create into adulthood.
Emma Monfries
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
The structure of this book prevented me from enjoying it. A memoir about the brutality of boarding school should have been interesting, as I went to boarding school too, and the author certainly didn’t hold back on the truth of bad boarding school experiences, in particular the unique brand of exclusion girls punish one another with, and just how far bullying can go if all the adults around just don’t care. In addition to this, the memoir also documents the author’s journey to discover her own i ...more
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australian
Fascinating insight into boarding school life, bullying, the brutality of teenage girls and pack mentality, as well as how these years and experiences can impact on adult life and relationships.

Rebecca bares herself and doesn't shy away from her own bad behaviour, while not seeking sympathy she does leave the reader empathetic towards her actions. It's brilliantly written, and despite the horrors you can't help turning the pages to find out what might happen next.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-read
Boarding schools fascinate me . People I know who had that experience either loved it or were traumatised by it. This is a highly readable account that reminds you all too well that some 14 year old girls can be arseholes. I read in another review that this was based on the author's experience at Timbertop (Geelong Grammar) and whilst I knew of this school, was not aware of the incredibe amount of camping and hiking they participate in. Extreme!!!
Kate (Lillytales)
Apr 20, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoyed Rebecca's memoir about bullying and boarding school. Although I found the chapters set in Silver Creek to be slightly mundane and anti-climactic.

I much preferred the chapter's dedicated to her adult life, as she described her experiences of coming out to her family, her relationships and her reflections on her teenage years. For me, as a gay woman living in Melbourne, these sections really resonated with me and I found her authorial voice to be honest and heart-felt.
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Rebecca Starford is a Melbourne-based writer, editor and publisher. She has worked previously at Australian Book Review and Affirm Press, and she is currently an editor at Text Publishing. She writes regularly for The Age, The Australian and The Guardian Australia.

In 2010, she co-founded Kill Your Darlings where she is now publishing director. Her debut memoir, Bad Behaviour, was published by All

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