Tuesday, January 17, 2012

From a Bully's Perspective

After finishing The Fault in Our Stars, I really needed to read something different. I had bought this book on a whim, at first scoffing at it, then intrigued by it. I was torn between being impressed by Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson writing about his early start as a playground bully and being annoyed by this ghost written story pumped out to make more money. Now that I have read Playground: A Mostly True Story of a Former Bully, I think I am more impressed than annoyed...

Butterball is a big guy. Junior High is rough enough for a kid, let alone a fat kid, so you have to be tough to make it through. When Maurice, Butterball's only real friend at school, starts telling people something truly horrible about Butterball's family, he does the only thing he can. He defends his honor. He bashes Maurice's face in with a sock filled with D batteries. Now Butterball has to go to a social worker twice a week and talk about his feelings- the last thing he wants to do.

Butterball and his mother moved out of the city to Garden City when his parents split up. He still goes to the city occasionally to see his father, but his dad is usually preoccupied by his latest girlfriend. Butterball's mom works constantly between her time at the hospital and college classes to become a nurse. Mostly he spends his time with Evelyn, his mom's friend who make gross vegetarian stews and rags on Butterball to behave himself. At school he has gotten a lot of attention, some good and some bad, for what he did to Maurice. Now a group of guys wants him to do it again to a guy Butterball has never met. But Butterball doesn't understand- this guy hasn't done anything to him, so why would Butterball bash his face in? 

I wouldn't say this was a great story, but it was one that has a good moral and is told form a different perspective than others of its kind. I like the fact that 50 Cent took the time (via a ghost writer) to get his story out there about his own bullying, why he did it, and how it affected him later. As an artist many kids look up to, it is great to put yourself out there and try to be a positive role model to them. I think it was important for him to stress that there was a reason behind Butterball's actions. While the reason doesn't condone the actions, it helps someone understand and address the situation properly.

I would probably keep this book around, even though there are better stories out there, because it would appeal to some kids where other books might not. They may pick it up and read it just because the author is someone they know and look up to. And to be honest, the moral of the story is pretty strong. Overall, not a bad book but definitely one that has a place on my shelves. But I'm not going to lie... still feel silly calling him 50 Cent (what a ridiculous name!).

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