Review: Bully (Fall Away #1) by Penelope Douglas

My name is Tate. He doesn't call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he'll barely even speak to me.

But he still won't leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I've been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I'm done hiding from him now, and there's no way in hell I'll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It's time to fight back.

I'm not going to let him bully me anymore.

I've heard a lot about this series and this book. It seems either people love it or hate it. I fall into that first category. Honestly I was a bit wary at first, as bullying is something I don't deal with well, and I've read comments from other people saying how horrible it was in this book. To me actually it was doable. There is no (physical) harassment, mostly spreading some rumors around to keep Tate isolated from most of her peers.

I certainly do not condone bullying in any way, I was just prepared for the worst and the reality wasn't as harsh as I had imagined. Though the bullying we read about has mostly happened in the past, to me Jared was mostly just being an asshole showing kindergarten behavior. Namely teasing a girl because you like her, though it certainly did go further than just teasing.

From the beginning it's actually pretty clear why Jared behaves that way and when you find out why he does it, that simply made me sad. The regret he feels, the anger, the love... these conflicting emotions also makes it difficult for him to stop his behavior. He realizes he can not keep treating her this way, but already so much has happened that it's hard to break the pattern.

Still it becomes more and more difficult to hide his true feelings for Tate, though she isn't so easy to forgive him. I fully agree with the way Tate reacts to Jared's behavior. After her year abroad she has become stronger, willing to finally stand up to him. Though at times she has to be careful not to turn into a bully herself. I really liked that she was done letting him run all over her, proving how strong she was. It's definitely not easy, and even confusing as Jared's behavior turns fickle.

Slowly it becomes clear how hurt both these characters are. Jared made a stupid decision, which he has trouble coming back from and Tate was the victim of that. Instead of still being best friends, they became enemies and for Tate it was never clear why. She suffered from this separation, though so did Tate. Since he was the start of it all, he will also have to make amends to turn things around.

Bully was an amazing story that deals with some pretty heavy themes. Two broken characters, exhausted from the dynamic between them and trying to figure a way out. While bullying is definitely a theme in this book, to me it felt more about standing up for yourself, figuring out what you want or who you want (to be), opening up and forgiveness. Add in all your usual teenage drama and you know it's not a light read. Still there are plenty of amusing scenes in between, when these two start arguing or the plans they have for each other. While these last couple of years were awful, I feel that we need to remember that Tate and Jared know each other very well, were best friends for most of their lives, and have a lot of history between them. Therefor it was easier for me to understand how Tate could forgive him.

I can keep rambling on about this book forever it seems, definitely plenty worth of discussing. So I'm just going to end things here. Bully was amazing, with complex and interesting characters, heavy themes and I loved it.

Fall Away - Reading order and purchase links



The Author
Penelope Douglas is a writer living in Las Vegas. Born in Dubuque, Iowa, she is the oldest of five children. Penelope attended the University of Northern Iowa, earning a Bachelor's degree in Public Administration, because her father told her to "just get the damn degree!" She then earned a Masters of Science in Education at Loyola University in New Orleans, because she HATED public administration. One night, she told the bouncer at the bar where she worked that his son was hot, and three years later she was married. To the son, not the bouncer. They have spawn, but just one. A daughter named Aydan. Penelope loves sweets, The 100, and she shops at Target almost daily.

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