Book Review: Please Stop Laughing at Me

December 1, 2010 Book Review, reviews 9

Book Review:  Please Stop Laughing at MePlease Stop Laughing at Me: One Woman's Inspirational Story by Jodee Blanco
Published by Adams Media Corporation on August 17th, 2010
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 304
Source: complimentary review copy
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An epidemic is happening in our schools. It seems like every day we hear of another teen or child who has been terrorized, beaten, or worse – murdered, at the hands of a peer.  Bullying has become such an epidemic in the United States that sometimes I wonder – have we become de-sensitized to the damage being done to our children?

Yesterday a 10th-grade student held 24 students hostage in a Wisconsin school.  The hostages were rescued, but tragically, the student turned the gun on himself taking his own life. According to FOX & CNN News, we may never know what led to the circumstances of yesterday’s horror.

Through the woods and down the mountain in my own backyard, Bobby Tillman was stomped, kicked and beaten to death at a party by four other much larger boys.  The supposed reason? A party got out of hand. It was to be a small gathering of about 10 but grew to over 70 people.  When some were asked to leave a fight broke out outside between two males and two females.  When one of the females hit one of the males, he said he wouldn’t hit a woman BUT he would beat the next man who walked by. That young man was 18-year old Bobby Tillman.  The male proceeded along with 3 of his buddies to beat, stomp and kick Bobby Tillman to death….and over 50 bystanders stood by and allowed it to happen.

It was terrible, and so many people watched it like it was a sport. I keep seeing it over and over,” she said. “The saddest part to me is that no one helped. I wish I could have gotten home earlier and that my lights would have scared them. Kizzy Powell, next door neighbor, The Associated Press

The four teenagers have been charged with murder.

If you’ve been hanging around for any length of time you know I have three teenagers. Helping to build an awareness and share information about bullying is of paramount concern to me.

That’s why when I was given the chance to review Please Stop Laughing at Me by Jodee Blanco, I welcomed the opportunity.  When I began reading Please Stop Laughing at Me I thought I was reading a page out of my diary….had I gone to my 20 year high school reunion. (I was still not ready to face them after 20 years).  These first lines read like  dialogue I would have with myself:

This is crazy. Why am I afraid? I’m behaving as if this is my first black-tie affair.  Hell, I’ve hosted parties for heads of state. Not only do I often mingle and make interesting conversation with some truly important people, but I am frequently in charge of those events and under pressure to ensure that every detail goes smoothly……Yet, here I am, sitting in a rental care in a hotel parking lot in suburban Chicago where I grew up, scared to go to a party in my own hometown. I’m being ridiculous. It’s just a high school reunion. They can’t hurt me anymore.

Ms. Blanco bares her childhood soul in this book; revealing the scars roughly healed left from years and years of being the victim of bullying.  Ms. Blanco shares how she went from being one of the most popular children in her small grade school, having several friends and always someone to sit with at lunch to being shunned by her closest friends in fifth grade.  This grows into a horrible, almost traumatic experience for the young Jodee as it continues until she has to change schools. As soon as the young Jodee makes a friend or appears to be doing a bit better socially in school another bully slaps her down either literally or figuratively.  Please Stop Laughing at Me carries us through Ms. Blanco’s journey through her school career and what she has learned about bullying then and since.

Favorite Quotes:
Jodee’s grandmother moved in with them while she was growing up and became a treasured gem – when Jodee is deciding whether to continue trying to fit in her 9th grade year or trust her own instincts, values and beliefs she goes to her grandmother for advice. Her grandmother offers this sage advice:

Jodee, you can overcome sadness, loneliness, even terrible loss. But guilt goes with you to the grave. (p. 113)

Jodee shares some thoughts at the end of her 11th grade year:

I’ve been blessed. Despite getting knocked down so many times, God keeps putting people in my corner at just the right time who give me the courage and strength to come out for one more round. Often, the opponent isn’t another fighter, but my own self-doubt. (p. 212)

When you’re a victim of any kind of abuse, you can do one of two things. You can learn how to turn your pain into purpose and make a difference in the world, or you can allow it to extinguish the light inside you. (p. 213)

One of things Ms. Blanco credits her parents in helping her through the school-age years is they signed her up in a theater production group in a different city outside the circle of students who would bully Jodee.This helped build her self-esteem and allowed her to see that she was good at something.

Please Stop Laughing at Me reads with the ease of a fiction novel, but rather, it is filled with critical information about bullying.  Parents should buy this book when their child enters grade school; teachers of all grades should definitely read it – anyone who works with youth, this is a must read. What would really be a beautiful thing is if every high school student read this book, heard Ms. Blanco speak, and had an entire class devoted to anti-bullying and leadership development.

Sites of Interest:   It’s NOT Just Joking Around! | Jodee’s Blog  |

 
many thanks to fsb media for the complimentary review copy

9 Responses to “Book Review: Please Stop Laughing at Me”

  1. bermudaonion

    That sounds like a must read. I think so many bullies are bullied at home and until we do something about that, the problem will never go away.

  2. Coffee and a Book Chick

    I literally just read about this on the news and I am horrified. I don't understand, I'm so confused by what I see on the news lately — has this always been happening and it is just now getting the necessary attention? Or is it violence that is new to our society in such big numbers? I don't understand — I'm so maddeningly mortified by what happened to this young man. It's so important for young people to realize that it's not cool, and if you do it, you will be charged with assault, battery, and in some cases, murder. Harassment is a terrifying thing for anyone to go through, and for a young person to have to experience it? I am saddened by what I read today.

    Yet again, Stacy — a lovely post and reminder of this important book and the tips provided. It's such an important social issue that needs to be discussed and reminded that bullying, harassing, and more — it's never, NEVER the right thing to do. And we have to be mindful and accountable as adults that if we see this happen, we should not stay quiet and stand by — we are responsible to stand up and defend someone.

  3. Mystica

    This sounds like a have to read for everyone irrespective of whether you have children or not.

    I do read about the violence amongst young people and though we certainly have our share of murder and mayhem it has not spread to youngsters – not to this level at all. Could there be some reason for this. Is that parental controls/discipline/family ideas and morals have more weight in Asia. I don't know and wouldnt even like to say that one is better than the other but lack of borders/regulations/guidelines could be one of the reasons I feel.

  4. Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com

    Thank you for sharing the powerful affect this book had on you 🙂

  5. Jenners

    Every time I read these bullying posts that you do, my heart just sinks a little more. Thanks again for doing this series of post and for highlighting so many wonderful resources and books out there for parents and children.

  6. Zibilee

    I read about this story on the news yesterday, and was just so sad. It seems like a lot more children are bullied nowadays then ever before, and it makes me confused as to what I can do to help my own children. I was not bullied as a child, more like shunned, which can be just as bad, so I know what it feels like. I wouldn't dream of going to any reunion at all, ever, and that also makes me sad. I think this is a book that my children need to read, so I will be on the lookout for it. It is a horrible thing, but it does happen, and I want my children to be prepared and have the answers that I might not be able to give them. Thanks for this incredibly sensitive and timely post, Stacy.

  7. Kathleen

    I wish bullying didn't exist. It is a sad world that we live in when a young man is beaten to death at a party and no one intervenes. This book sounds like a very important read for all of us.

  8. Tawny

    I had am bullied and I am a junior in highschool and this book really touched me and has helped me realize that I can over come the bullies and that suicide is NOT a choice! there is help out there

  9. Larry Haynes

    I was one of those children that was bullied even before starting school.
    I am the firstborn and was, unfortunately, born of an adulterous situation. My mother and her husband of some five years, had temporarily separated, she had an affair with another man and I came into the world. The idea was to never let me know. I would wear the family name and if my mother could just get me out of highschool and into the outside world, she’d be safe and I’d never know. Never good enough, something always wrong. I was made to sit and listen to berating while my brother, the legitimate birth, was always propped up and constantly valued above me and most importantly, was compared to the father who was not my father. I never was and never knew why…
    It led to never feeling confident, weak, preferring to be alone and did not always “fit in”. The bullying continued right into school, from fellow students and even school administrators. In the 5th grade, I was blamed for beating up a child and taking his money. I was punished and kicked off of school activities. It took me years to forgive, if ever I cimpletely have. Even my
    mother did not believe my innocence.
    I was being bullied at home and at school and suddenly I was being blamed and punished for supposedly bullying another child! That was the bottom!
    I recall being hit by my mother and when I asked her why, she remarked: “That’s in case you do something!”
    I have survived. Retired. I am more of a fighter these days but at age 68, I am simply tired of having to “put up my dukes!” I am respected today in some circles and my children and grandchildren look up to me. I do have a wife whose acid remarks I must fight off. My children don’t like it, nor do some of my relatives. I have considered divorce because at my age, all I desire is peace. As a child, I just wanted to be left alone from hurtful people. As I near my 69th birthday, the feeling appears to be the same.

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