"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

07 January 2009

Book Review: Please Stop Laughing at Me

We have no school today.
We are in midst of a "wintry storm mix" of snow, sleet, and freezing rain so most of the capital region schools are closed. Because I have to get up early anyways to watch for the closings, I decided to eat breakfast with my hubby, Dave. I was in the book of Acts and enjoying my reading time in the Word. Something kept nagging me though, to do this book review.

I had planned on reviewing "The Thirteenth Tale" which is the awesome novel I read over Xmas vacation. It was so well written and moving that I completed it in 3 days. I do plan on reviewing it.

However, I also just read this book, pictured above, over the weekend. I completed it Monday evening. (I bought the book for my teen, Courtney, to read)
It is written by a woman named Jodee Blanco. The following is an excerpt from the Barnes and Noble website:
"A publicist (and author of The Complete Guide to Book Publicity) who has promoted several bestsellers, Blanco was once a troubled child, tormented by her school mates. In this moving account, Blanco describes how she was first victimized in a Roman Catholic grammar school because she defended some deaf children when they were picked on by hearing students. She gave the names of the ringleaders of this cruel activity to one of the nuns, and was subsequently ostracized by former friends for being a tattletale. After Blanco transferred to another school, she continued a pattern of reporting bad behavior to authority figures and became a true outsider. According to the author, her parents were sympathetic, but they made things worse by forcing her to see a therapist. He prescribed medication that made her sleepy and told her that "kids will be kids." In high school, she was physically abused by students who also objected to her "goody two shoes" attitude. During her teen years, Blanco's emotional problems were compounded by a physical problem that caused her breasts to grow at different rates (later corrected by surgery). Blanco does feel, however, that those painful early years gave her the strength to become a successful adult."

Now, I do believe every teen, parent, educator, and school administrator should read this book. It doesn't matter if you are a Christian or not, or if you homeschool, send to a fancy private school, a Christian school, a Catholic school or a public school. Bullying happens in churches, parks, playgrounds, schools and houses. We all know this. The book doesn't say which era Blanco grew up in, but from her description and things going on culturally, I am assuming it was sometime in the late 1970's or early 1980's.
Now, at least in NYS public schools, anti-bullying messages are strong and clear.
I am fortunate to have my daughters in one of the top school districts for the Capital Region of NYS. There is a very strong, and excellent anti-bullying curriculum that is used by the school counselors, for teaching to the students in each classroom in grades K-6th. We are fortunate that bullying is NOT tolerated in our schools here. My daughters, thus far, have not been affected at all by bullying although there have been a few instances on the bus that have had to be dealt with. (it also helps that each bus is equipped with a video camera!).

I do know this author went through a horrible time.
But....this is what got to me: the whole book has this feeling of hopelessness.(from a spiritual perspective)
As a Christian parent, I do endorse reading this book.
But I also grieve that the author does not seem to know Christ as her personal Savior.
Now, don't get me wrong. This is not meant to be judgemental. Only God knows her heart and soul. But....from what she has written, it appears that she had no hope in God while growing up nor did she get the message of His Redeeming Love for her and her situation. If she did, she did not include it in her book. She does mention that some aunts would pray with their rosaries and she did spend some time in a Catholic school but there is no where any mention of a personal relationship with God/Jesus.
I found this to be utterly sad.
I was picked on sometimes by kids for being too skinny or for having acne. I usually ignored such remarks. I certainly didn't face the type of bullying that Jodee did during her childhood! I am thankful to God for that! I did see other kids getting picked on and tormented but again, nothing like what this author experienced.
However, I also had the spiritual training and guidance of my parents who taught me, along with excellent Sunday School teachers, that we are unique in Christ. And that Jesus is our Friend. And that He can bring Friendship during times of loneliness. And that He never leaves us nor forsakes us.
That might seem like trite stuff to a child who is dealing with physical abuse from peers.
But it is Truth!
And this poor girl had no (seemingly) guidance as to spiritual things.
Yes, she overcame those bullys.
Yes, she tried to ignore them.
Yes, she later went on to succeed. You can read about her achievements at the back of the book. She sounds amazing.
But what about her soul? Yes, even Christians can have deep scars on their souls, in their hearts, from past abuse. I know this. I can't tell you at this time how I know this. Just trust me when I say I do know this.
However, for those of us who know the Lord in a personal way, He alone can bring us Hope and comfort. He alone fully restores our souls.

She did choose to forgive the people who tormented her. This is huge. Forgiveness is a choice! And it is difficult sometimes. I know this, too!

But....reading this entire book just left me feeling a hopelessness for her.
In her loneliness she didn't know about or didn't write about the verse from Psalm 4:8 which says: "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."
Or what about Psalm 32: 7 "You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance."

Jodee used to cry herself to sleep or have trouble sleeping. Perhaps if her parents had given her these promises from God, her soul would have been comforted while she was going through what she faced every day.

Or what about this Truth?
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me." (Jesus speaking as found in John 14: 1).

I do recommend this book.
But....I would love to know what other Christian moms or dads think about this.
I am thankful that school bullying has been brought out in the open and is being dealt with in our school today. I am thankful my daughters have been spared from this type of abuse.
but I am also thankful that I have Jesus to run to with any problem and that I can trust Him to always be there for me. I am thankful I have the opportunity to teach my daughters these Truths as well and that so far, they are following Him. And trusting Him. No, life isn't always easy. Yes we all face trials and tribulations. I just read about some that Paul faced and He was a mighty man of God!

I pray that this author comes to know Christ as her Savior and Friend if she hasn't already.
For it is only in Him where we find True Peace.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

We have had our first experiences with teasing and some other ugliness for my oldest daughter at school this year. How it breaks your heart for your little ones to face stuff like that. But I am so thankful that we are able to encourage my daughter with the truth and with the hope that is found in Christ. How truly sad that this woman faced all of those years of abuse without knowing about Him, about His love and His protection, about the hope that is found in Him.

Thanks for sharing this book review with us!
Hope you had a good day home with your family!
K :)