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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Destiny's Story + Giveaway

Destiny from the blog Totally Bookalicious is going to share her story today. 
Big thanks to Destiny!

I don’t have your typical “bully” story. Not once was I ever physically bullied, but emotionally, I was. Even by myself – and when you hear my story, you’ll see how sometimes we can be our own worst bully.

Growing up, I was always overweight kid in elementary school. And let me tell you – kids can be cruel. Despite having the latest trend clothing or the newest toys, none of that got past my weight. Kids focused on that and that alone. Name calling was brutal. 

I had a huge self-esteem problem by the time I was in 3rd grade and when it was time to weigh in at school, there were literally times I faked sick to go home. Lunch time was always spent with my one or two friends I had, but then, if they were ever absent or on a field trip my class didn’t go on…it was torture. No kid wants to eat lunch alone. Or be pointed and snickered at. Not to mention P.E. I couldn’t run or play like the other kids and it was the PRIME time for kids to make fun of me.

By the start of middle school, I had completed Weight Watchers and was at a normal weight. I loved having friends, cute clothes, and the attention of boys. It was intoxicating. Addicting even. I sailed through middle school. High school was slightly more difficult because I noticed I was gaining weight again. Some days I would literally starve myself seeing if I could get a few pounds off. Other days I would consider going to the bathroom to purge. Every day was a fear I would be the “fat girl” again. This terrified me because this was high school – I was supposed to be having the time of my life. I made it through high school – a little heavier than I would have liked, but still a healthy weight.

When college rolled around, I was stressed and tired and really started gaining weight again. Fast. I would do the crash diets and have success, but I always gained that weight (and more) back. Eventually, I lost all my self-esteem and just stopped caring. I let myself go. Even though I hated myself, it seemed easier than fighting. I ended up dating guys that were bad for me because it was a confidence boost to just have the attention. I went by for years like this. The problem, never out of mind, but pushed back far enough, I was in denial. I would “deal with it one day”. Even my doctors knew better than to ask for me to weigh at an appointment – I would automatically tell them “No, thank you, not this time” every time I went. I honestly had no clue what my weight actually was! I didn’t want to know.

“One day” finally came when I was 24. I was on the phone with my mom and we had a heart-to-heart and decided I was seriously unhealthy and in danger. I agreed to meet with a bariatric surgeon and have vertical banded gastroplasty. This is a stomach banding procedure where you get a band around the top portion of your stomach and then the rest is stapled off. Unlike the Lap-Band, this is permanent, but does not re-route the intestines like the gastric bypass. I  am able to eat only 2 oz. of food at any time and that is it. If I eat too much or too fast, my body will reject it and it won’t stay down.

This sounds like the easy way out. Most people say diet, exercise, change your lifestyle. How do you exercise when you can hardly walk? How do you portion control when you are so hungry you feel like your stomach is eating itself? Then people asking, “How did you let this happen?” I had to do something. So I agreed to the surgery.

Keep in mind I am 5’11” tall – but I weighed in at 384 lbs!! How did I get here from the 170 lbs I was at the last time I weighed?! The surgery was scheduled and I can tell you this was NOT the easy way out. I have never been so sick in my life. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital, had pneumonia, blood clots, 2 blood transfusions, had an NG tube (a tube that goes down the nose straight to the stomach to keep it empty and dry). Almost every day I asked my mom if I was dying. And most every day she couldn’t look me in the eye and tell me I wasn't. I was that close to dying.

Once I got out of the hospital, my body had to re-learn everything. When you only eat 2 oz, your body goes into shock. The weight starts to come off fast, but there are side effects. I have never been so cold in my life and my hair fell out by the handful. I was afraid to eat out for nearly a year until I learned my new body because I was terrified I might get sick in public. Even today, I hate being asked by waiters if the food isn’t good because I barely touched it. I’ve gotten used to the questions by now and to overhearing people talk that I am secretly bulimic because food doesn’t always stay down. It is still worth it.

This all began in May of 2008. My surgeon set a goal weight of 200 lbs for me. I hit that weight in February of 2010. Almost 200 lbs lost. My body was a mess. I hated the way clothes fit because I had so much loose skin. I went under the knife again in February and had an upper and lower tummy tuck. This dropped me down to 190 lbs. I told my surgeon I had a personal goal of 180 lbs, but he said it was unlikely, but if I reached it, great. If not, 190-200 lbs was very healthy considering my height.

I continued to lose weight and I beat my own goal weight by almost 20 lbs. I weigh about 160 lbs now and I feel better than I ever have. I can look in the mirror and see that I am pretty. I can look at clothes and know they look good. But there is still a part of me that thinks I could lose a few more pounds. Just another dress size. I will probably be that way the rest of my life. As a result, I am on strict doctor’s orders to not lose more and I will watch it carefully.

There really isn't a book out there that fits my situation perfectly, but since SKINNY by Donna Cooner depicts a girl struggling with her weight and recovery, something I became very familiar with, I will be giving away one copy of this book.

1. Before (Weight unknown as I refused to weigh or take full body pictures)
2. Before/After Picture at the Surgeon’s Office (Before: 384 lbs, After: 190 lbs)
3. Now (160 lbs)


Open to INT as long as The Book Depository ships 
Winner must respond within 48 hours*
*Please note, all giveaways will be shipped out at the end of the month.*

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review & Giveaway - BUTTERFLY KISSES by Mia Castile

Everything changed for the Baxter sisters last spring. Lacey blew it with Henry her lifelong crush, only to discover a blooming relationship with her best friend, Chase. While he picked her up and put her back together, they grew closer over the summer. Now that school has started, he’s found popularity thanks to his band Cate’s Ashes, and he’s hiding secret phone calls and text messages. Plus, did his ex-girlfriend just appear out of the blue at his show? Forcing Lacey to wonder if he’s over the feelings he pronounced for her at the beginning of summer. Add to the tension, a realization and secret of her own to keep about her worse enemy. Lacey vows to be the bigger person and keep Byron’s revelation, but what will it cost?

Meanwhile, as Lana tries to find herself again after her suicide attempt, she’s befriended by the school’s resident bad girl, Britt, and new chicano boy, Tomas, in the same week. Britt offers unconditional acceptance that Lana didn’t realize she craved, while Tomas brings out the best in her, and makes her feel alive again. Britt is dangerous and daring, while Tomas exudes security and safety. Vices come easily when you are already addicted to something you crave, and Lana muddles through figuring out who she wants to be.

With their parents constantly arguing, and their dad moving into the guest bedroom, the pressure on the girls may explode destroying them all. Is there a place for happiness when their world is crumbling around them?

Wow. There is so much going on in this book that I'm not sure I have had sufficient time to let everything settle. First of all, I have to say that I love this story so, so much. I fell in love with it and all of the characters in the first book and reading this one just put the icing on the cake. Mia knows how to write a novel. She knows how to keep you coming back for more. So many issues are touched on. Mia isn't afraid to get deep and really go outside the box and I really like that. I didn't think it was possible but I actually think I like this book best so far. 

One of the things I really enjoyed was watching as Lana grew mentally and as a person, it was so nice to see her realizing the mistakes that she had made in the past and that she was accepting of them and wanted to be the better person. I think her being able to see the difference in herself means so much and gives her so much potential to be someone other than that shallow, spoiled little girl that she used to be. However, her character deals with so much and is under so much pressure in this book, I'm almost worried for her in the next. Will she be able to handle everything? Especially now that she no longer has the moral support that she is used to. I'm very interested to see where the story will go with her. 

All of the characters really have grown and have become their own in the second book. Chase and Lacey are too perfect. Byron is adorable. Henry is, well, Henry is Henry. It's fun getting to know some of the secondary characters from the first book in this one. Watching them try and form friendships with others is an interesting kick. I am already begging for the next book, for the next chapter in these kids' lives. 

This series is a must read.


Open to Everybody 15+
* Winner must respond within 48 hours*

*Please note, all giveaways will be shipped out at the end of the month.*

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Bookmarks & Button Collection Giveaway!

Today Jodie and I have a mega button collection with Jace and Clary bookmarks to giveaway. This lovely collection has been donated by the fabulous Jean Book Nerd and her husband James.

Find James Facebook & Blog
Find Jean Facebook & Blog


Open to US Only * Winner must respond within 48 hours*
*Please note, all giveaways will be shipped out at the end of the month.*
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review & Giveaway - FORGED by Becky Banks

First loves, dark pasts, and fast cars collide in this high-octane adventure.

Eva Lynn Rodgers, the daughter of a mechanic, grew up with a need for speed. So did her best friend, and later boyfriend, Nathaniel Vellanova. But when Eva left the drizzling rain of Portland, Oregon, for a high-powered career in New York, she left both Nathaniel and her past behind.

Now Eva's back, and her BMW—like her life in general—could use a little love. Her new mechanic is the right man for the job, but he's got some scores to settle with the girl who peeled out for the East Coast when he needed her most.

It's time for Eva and Nathaniel to confront their demons. Passionate and dangerous sparks ignite as Nathaniel's brutal youth rises up and pulls Eva Lynn back to him—forging a bond that, this time, won't be denied.

My Thoughts:

I adore Becky Banks. I will read every story she writes. I fell in love with Nathaniel and Eva just as I did with their story and was hooked the entire way through. Banks had me second guessing myself and hangin' on tight for more. FORGED is for sure a wild ride but one full of passion from the first page to the end.

After years of living in New York, Eva moves back to her hometown of Portland only to be faced with a past she thought she buried a long time ago. When Eva and Nate run into one another again for the first time you can feel the tension, almost hear the sparks fly. Neither of them will take no for an answer and neither will back down. Eva is a strong confident woman and will have to learn how to loosen up again while getting re-acquainted with her former self. Her former life.

Nate will ask over and over if he should trust himself, trust how he really feels inside about Eva, the one woman he loved, the woman that broke his heart. As we go through the story and take a trip down memory lane we run into obstacles that each of them have to deal with while trying to figure out their present situation. They're always on high alert and always on the move. Something new to deal with every day. Nate wants so bad to forget Eva and block her from his life but inside his heart is crying for what is real. What he and Eva had before and after one night together he can't refuse it's there. The passion that erupts is like an earthquake and you definitely want more. 

In this steamy novel you will experience heartache, fear, rage, crave and passion. You will take a first class ride through the past and see detail to detail all the way to their future. The ride is dangerous. It's steamy. It's love. 

Disclosure: I received this book for review from Jitterbug PR  and from the author as part of a virtual book tour. I was not compensated.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have posted are my own. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Becky Banks grew up, like the generations of Bankses before her, in the Hawaiian Islands. With the Islands as her roots, Becky was raised within the time-honored tradition of “talking story” amid a backdrop of grassy fields, blue waters, and cloud-clad mountains. She moved to the mainland after high school to attend Oregon State University, where she studied forestry, natural resources, and science education.

She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband Keith.

Becky’s first novel, The Legend of Lady MacLaoch, received Night Owl Reviews’ Top Pick Award and achieved #8 on the Amazon Bestsellers list for Historical Romance. See my review here. 

Becky can be found here: Facebook * Twitter 

The Giveaway:

Tour giveaway* includes: one smokin' FORGED tote, a fabulous assortment of printed duct tapes (you'll need them to re-enact a certain scene in the book...), a super awesome personalized and autographed copy of FORGED! 

This giveaway (bag, designer duct tape, and paperback copy of Forged) is for US and Canadian participants only (due to shipping costs). 

Make sure to check out tomorrow's stop and enter for the prize pack there at The Small Book Blog.
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L.B. Schulman on Bullying & Giveaway

Today I have L.B. Schulman to talk with us about Bullying.

My newly-released young adult novel, League of Strays, discusses bullying on many different levels. When I wrote it, I wanted to describe more than just the impact of bullying on everyday students. I wanted to look at the anger that victims may develop toward their oppressors. To that end, I created five members of the League of Strays who all felt wronged on differing levels. One of their own members is the biggest bully of all. Kade is sociopath, and having no conscience, coupled with finely-tuned manipulation skills, he convinces the others to seek revenge on a grand level.

The thing about bullying is, it does more than make someone’s self-esteem take a nosedive. It can make its victims furious. Unfortunately, for some kids, revenge is the next logical step.

Sometimes critics tell me that League of Strays couldn't happen or that my main character should have run away from the sociopathic leader of the group, I respectfully want to remind them of the tragic event at Columbine High School, where two teenagers marched into their school in April, 1999 and murdered 13 people and injured 24 others. Those kids were unpopular and frequently bullied, and their response was to fight back with a massacre. Dylan Klebold felt uncomfortable with the philosophy of revenge at times, but his psychopathic friend and plan leader, Eric Harris, convinced him to go down a terrible path.

Rage is a powerful force. When we help kids with bullying issues, I believe we should always address the possible anger of the victims. Feeling helpless is the worst emotion ever, in my opinion, and it can make a person feel like a wild, caged animal, perhaps desperate enough to attack for escape. Most of us won’t decide on a killing spree, thankfully. But it’s a reason all schools should embrace Bullying Prevention Month and implement no-tolerance, disciplinarian actions toward bullies, and a supportive and helpful approach for its victims. No one is truly helpless, but in the thick of pain, kids can’t always figure that out for themselves. 

If you don't win the giveaway for League of Strays, you can purchase the book here: Amazon * Barnes and Noble * Book Passage


Open to US & UK Only * Winner must respond within 48 hours*
*Please note, all giveaways will be shipped out at the end of the month.*
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Smash Attack Ash on Bullying

Today I have asked Ash from Smash Attack Reads to join us. Ash is going to share her view on bullying from a social workers perspective. 

I haven’t been a social worker for very long, but I've learned about bullying during my education, internships and jobs. I want to preface this article by saying that I am not an expert in the field. These are my thoughts about what I've learned and witnessed. I may ramble, but I hope I can offer a little insight.

While I believe the victims are of the utmost importance and we definitely need to protect these children, I also wish that society paid more attention to the bullies themselves, and why they bully others in the first place. Research has uncovered many reasons why children bully other children. One factor is that children see violence or bullying happen in their own homes, or experience it personally from their parents or siblings. If a child is being bullied at home, s/he may gravitate towards that behavior as a means of releasing emotion from their own bullying experiences. It can also be a power and control thing because the child feels absolutely powerless in their home environment, and therefore they exert power and control over someone else. Lastly, s/he may have simply learned that is the way to handle their emotions. Social learning theory states that people learn about life, how to express themselves and how to behave by observing others, so it is very important that every adult who interacts with a child reinforces that violence is unacceptable and provide more appropriate, healthy ways to problem solve and emote.

Bullies may also project feelings about their own perceived faults onto someone who they wish they could be more like. Violent neighborhoods may reinforce bullying behavior. Impoverished neighborhoods usually have less adequate schools, and therefore, the education levels are going to be lower. In these neighborhoods, social skills may not properly develop and therefore, violence is the go-to problem solving technique. While working with children in impoverished neighborhoods in Miami, FL, I recognized a severe deficit in social skills and understanding the basics of human interaction, in general. You know what else I noticed? The parents had the same problems, probably because they were raised in a similar environment. These are the types of societal problems that I am unsure we will ever eradicate; however, they need to be addressed when dealing with children. The entire family system needs to be examined and treated.

Bullying behavior may also be reinforced when it is ignored by school personnel, community and family. Parents and close family members have a huge responsibility when it comes to bullying, as they are always the first educators for a child. When a parent is contacted by a school regarding their own child bullying another, it is probably not an easy thing to swallow.  However, don’t take offense. Use that moment to recognize that your child is screaming for help.  Don’t write it off as a phase. Don’t ignore it. Don’t allow it to fester and get worse. Open the lines of communication.

On another note, I want to thank the authors who write these types of situations into their books. It really does help young people to realize they are not alone. Children, especially adolescents, are wary of adults and do not trust many, so media is sometimes a better way to communicate important life lessons to them. These stories raise awareness and really give children and adolescents an opportunity to get in touch with their emotions and express them appropriately. That is a skill all of us could work on.

P.S. I found this awesome resource list!

Smash blogs about books and bookish things at Smash Attack Reads. She enjoys paranormal romance, urban fantasy, horror, and young adult books, especially those that dabble in angel or Greek mythology, have a dystopian setting or involve zombies. A social worker in real life, Smash also reads “tough issue” books from time to time.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Giveaway - $30 gift card to Sketcher Girl Studios

Victoria Caswell works with SKETCHER GIRL STUDIOS and has generously offered a $30 gift card from there. 
Go over and check it out!

Sketcher Girl Studios specializes in freelance illustration.

$30 Sketcher Girl Studio Giftcard
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Giveaway - WONDER by R.J. Palacio

Hello there. It's nice to see you again. Today's giveaway is a copy of WONDER by R.J. Palacio. Thanks to the fabulous folks at RANDOM HOUSE for this donation. Remember our main goal is to help spread awareness and to let all of you know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.


Open to Everybody 13+ * Winner must respond within 48 hours
*Please note, all giveaways will be shipped out at the end of the month.*

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bullying Resources with Pam, An Unconventional Librarian

Today I have one a very good friend and librarian here to share with us some helpful books on bullying. I am pleased that Pam, An Unconventional Librarian took time out of her busy schedule and visit with us. Enjoy!

Resources for Bullying by Pam Margolis, An Unconventional Librarian.

There seems to be another spike in the media about bullying and I thought I would take a moment to present some books on the subject. 

While bullying is a widespread problem, there are surprisingly few appropriate books available to children.  To be sure educators, parents, counselors, and therapists all want to stop bullying and should set up safe zones and guidelines to prevent and protect children before, during, and after bullying. 
But what of the child?  What if the child cannot speak to a trusted adult or has spoken and received no or not enough support? 
Let’s look at Jodee Blanco’s book, Please Stop Laughing at Me… which chronicles a young woman’s life long struggle, yes LIFE LONG, with bullying.  The bullying started when she was 10.  Here’s an excerpt from one of the many painful bullying episodes in high school.
“Blanco, you suck.”

“Don’t be nice to her. She’s gross. We hated her so much in junior high.”

“Too bad you weren’t a miscarriage.”

If I don’t find a way to stop them from publicly belittling me, their disdain will become contagious. I’ll carry the stigma of being the class misfit again. At first, I make an effort to reason with them. “Come on, you guys, we’re not in junior high anymore. Let’s start fresh.” 
“Fat chance,” they proclaim, rolling their eyes conspiratorially.

I know cruelty is currency in high school. It can buy power and popularity. My former classmates sense my desperation and amuse themselves by taking advantage of it. They need me. They’re just as scared as I am about making friends at Samuels. They have to prove to the in-crowd here that they’ve got what it takes. I’m their best hope. All they have to do is make everyone see me as the outcast. Then they can say to the popular group, “We have a mutual interest. None of us likes Jodee.” It confirms their social status. If I weren’t so furious about it, I’d laugh.

Ok, you say, so this is high school bullying where cruelty is currency and everyone is vying for power while they transform from child to adult.  How sad is it that we try to justify the bullying?  Very.  And fortunately, Blanco understands and has developed a companion website to Blanco’s book  that offers survival tips for students, parents, educators, and adult survivors. 
Blanco’s bullying started when she was 10.  What about resources for tween victims? 

I discovered a book, My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig, which I think is appropriate for tweens, age 8-11.  Ludwig, an acclaimed author works with anti bullying groups to help children cope with bullying.  My Secret Bully is a tale of young Monica who is bullied by her friend.  This sort of relational aggression is common, especially in women and girls (Imagine Mean Girls started out as Mean Tweens).  Katie’s bullying is not overt but in the form of taking Monica’s friends away from her or threatening to not play with Monica if Monica plays with Sarah.  Fortunately, Monica opens up to her mother and gets the empowerment she needs.
I stared at her straight in the eyes and said, “Katie, does it make you feel good to make me feel bad?  Because friends don’t do that to friends.”
She turned red in the face and looked away.  Right then, I knew Katie could no longer hurt me.
Don’t you love that the words Monica used were so simple but yet so powerful? 
I do.
You know what else I love about the book? The illustrations by Abigail Marble include children of various ethnic groups and abilities! My Secret Bully should be in every parent’s home. 

The last book I want to discuss is Leave Me Alone, A tale of what happens when you stand up to a bully” by Kes Gray and Lee Wildish.  This book is my least favorite of the three but I like it because it strives to empower even the littlest child.  “Leave me alone,” the child says to his animal friends who seek to help him.  He tells them that his troubles are too big for anyone to be able to help.  I’m sure children might often feel helpless and overwhelmed and I like the way the book expresses those feelings.
The child is not directly bullied by a person, but by a problem that is depicted as a giant bully blocking the sun.  The animals band together with the child to tell the bully to “Leave Him Alone!” which the bully does.  The child is happy again and knows the problem will never come back and bother him again.  This is the odd bit about the book but I love the discussion opportunities provided by the idea of empowering the child. 

And speaking of child empowerment, have you read Kelley Osborne Faust’s The Superpower of Me! Yet?  If not, check it out! The book, published by The Sunshine Hope Organization teaches children how to overcome obstacles in their lives and to believe in themselves. It’s the best book out there. EVER.  Tell Kelley you heard it from PammyPam. 
I would love to hear your comments about these or other bullying books.  Hit me up on Twitter if you’d like to continue the conversation there.
About Pam:

PammyPam has a Masters in Library and Information Science and is certified as a Library Media Specialist (K-12) and in Elementary Education (K-6). She has experience as an educator, researching, designing, and implementing curriculum materials. 
As a freelance writer, blogger, and social media consultant, she analyzes and coordinates online media outreach, develops and manages presence on popular social networking websites, tracks and monitors program success, writes book reviews, and curates children’s literature. She can also prepare marketing pieces and press releases. Samples of her work can be found at her book review blog. 
“and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice, 'without pictures or conversation?”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Caroline Bock stops by to speak about Bullying & Giveaway.

Everybody  knows, nobody's talking. That's what's being passed from friend-to-friend as 
seventeen year-old Skylar Thompson is being questioned by the police in her nice suburban
Long Island town.  Her boyfriend Jimmy, baseball and football star--a  Scholar-Athlete -- stands accused of brutally assaulting two young
El Salvadoran immigrants from a neighboring town, and she's the prime witness along with Jimmy's best friend and accomplice Sean.
But when Skylar and Sean  begin to appreciate the enormity of what has happened, especially when Carlos Cortez, the victim's brother steps up to demand justice, they must figure out why they followed Jimmy--and if they will lie to protect him-- and themselves. 

Inspired by true events, most notably the murder of Marcelo Lucero in November of 2008 in Long Island by a group of teens, as well as hate crimes against Hispanics in Brooklyn, NY and rural Pennsylvania, this story grips you from page one --and will stay with you -- and that is the truth. 

Watch The Amazing LIE Book Trailer produced and directed by independent filmmaker Heather Smith on YouTube. Interested in more on what inspired LIE? Go to the nonprofit organization Not In My Town and look for the documentary, which aired on PBS in September of 2011 on Marcelo Lucero, "Light in the Darkness".

By Caroline Bock [Caroline Bock - Home]
Author of the critically acclaimed novel – LIE-for teens and adults from St. Martin’s Press. 

            "I once had a hat. 
            This was a hat I wore all the time – to bed, to school, when I got home, when my father asked me, ‘why the hell are you wearing a hat inside?’ and after asking once or twice stopped and just let me be.
            Of course you are wondering what kind of hat? I wish I could say that this hat had magical properties – that it could, like the talking hat in the Harry Potter stories, tell me what “house” I should be in. Then I would know where I belonged. For certainly, I didn’t belong in the house at the end of the block, the one with six-inch high crabgrass, the one with shouts and screams from four kids jabbing out the open windows, the one without a mother.
            Unfortunately, this hat was knitted by my grandmother in a fury of clacking needles on her regular visits when my father was at work. She was our mother’s mother and in a constant battle with him. Made from leftover yarn, a rough muddy grey and navy blue wool, the knots on the inside of the hat were the size of bullets and left dents in my forehead. Once or twice my grandmother tried to teach me to knit and pronounced me careless and useless and good for nothing but those books I was always reading. It was a relief to be such a poor student— at knitting and crocheting and sewing – because then I could go back to reading when I wasn’t cooking dinner or doing the laundry. I was in sixth grade, eleven-years-old, when I wore this hat all the time.
            The only place I wasn’t allowed to wear my hat was in Mrs. Abrahamson’s class. She was old school strict. We sat in rows of desks, unlike in fourth and fifth grade where we had been part of an experiment in “open classes.” I spent two years huddling in the corner reading books or at least that’s how I remember that blur of time. However, I remember Mrs. Abrahamson classroom – we had textbooks and lessons on the blackboard and homework – and a musty smell of wet wool through the winter days. It was a relief to find myself in that quiet classroom. All the rest of my life was in chaos but I had a desk in which to place my notebook and pencils and hat.     
            As soon as the bell rang and we were let outside for recess, I reached for that hat and pulled it down over my stringy brown hair and high forehead. Maybe, I thought I could disappear, vanish, and become the invisible person I felt I truly was. I had no friends except for one other girl, whose divorcing parents during the winter break would pull her out of public school in New Rochelle, New York and send her out of state to boarding school.    
            I wore that hat no matter the weather: cold, rainy, snowy and into the days that lengthened and warmed. One rainy spring day there was a class bus trip – I don’t know remember to where— but I do recall that my friend wasn’t on that trip and I was sitting by myself with the excuse of a book on my lap, when a hand drilled down on my head. I reached up as my hat was snatched off my head – by Brent or Evan or Karen or Debbie—I don’t know who to this day, but those where the kids who led the tormenting of others. Everyone knew they were the untouchable popular kids. Brent or Karen ripped my hat off and tossed it from one seat to another. I screamed – too late—a window had been wedged open for my hat.       
            Now, I could end this on a fairy tale note: those kids were punished or at least said they were sorry; my grandmother knitted me a new, nicer hat; I was suddenly popular with shiny hair smelling of lavender shampoo -- but none of those things happened. My grandmother stated that I shouldn’t have lost the hat, which is what I told her: I lost my hat. My father said that I would lose my head too if that wasn’t screwed on.
            Stacy, a friend of Karen and Debbie, did inform me that she had her mother drive along the roadside where my hat had been flung out the bus window. But couldn’t find my hat in the mud and muck. And I said that it was okay. “It was time for the hat to go,” as if I knew even then that most things in our lives bring us only temporary comfort, that life is about a continuing re-arranging and re-imaging from loss, that we have to reach within ourselves to find the strength to persevere, to believe in ourselves when others would be so quick to throw us or our hat out the window. 
            Some things you don’t forget. You take them with you and over time, you let the anger and the sadness at being the girl in the hat form its own story, just one of many, because you are determined not to have any one story define you. You are committed to write many stories and end up the master of your fate.
            Though I do have to admit, I don’t like to wear hats any more."                                                                                                             ©  Caroline Bock, 2012

Caroline Bock is the author of the critically-acclaimed young novel, LIE, published by St. Martin's Press. Inspired by real events, LIE explores extreme bullying, hate, murder and the struggle to tell the truth -- or lie. More at 

A FEW TRUTHS ABOUT ME...I feel like I've been writing all my life, and at the same time, that I'm just getting started.  I'm the author of the critically-acclaimed young adult novel - LIE - from St. Martin's Press (August, 2011).  In addition, I'm the co-author with my sister, Susan Blech, of the memoir, Confessions of a Carb Queen (Rodale, 2008), which was optioned by Sony Television. As a graduate of Syracuse University, I had the distinct honor of studying creative writing with Raymond Carver. In 2011, I received my MFA in Fiction from The City College of New York, and have taught there as an adjunct lecturer in the English and Mass Communications departments. 

LIE, the critically-acclaimed young adult novel from Caroline Bock, is the story of one community torn apart by race, prejudice, and the struggle of two teens to break with their friends and tell the truth about a brutal hate crime -- or lie. Inspired by real events, published by St. Martin's Press,...


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