This is Feature Shelf, a series that provides book recommendations based on theme or title suggestions. This week’s shelf was requested by Paul. This is Feature Shelf #35, the Bystander edition. My name is eli. I’m also called the book supplier. Thanks for listening.
When I talked to Paul about what he liked about Bystander, he said he liked that it was about students trying to survive in school. So I put together a shelf of four books, plus Bystander about kids who are trying to survive in unfavorable school environments.
So first up is our title book, Bystander by James Preller. Eric is new in town, and he becomes friends with the popular guy, Griffin. Lucky, Eric, right? It’s hard to make friends when you’re the new kid, sometimes. So Eric pals around with Griffin, and finds out that Griffin isn’t quite as cool as he seems — thieving, lying, bullying. And once Eric has this epiphany, he becomes Griffin’s next target.
Second on the shelf is Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina. Like Eric, Piddy is the new kid. Her best friend has moved away, she just moved to a new apartment, and on her first day in a new school a girl comes up to Piddy and tells her that Yaqui Delgado has it out for her. Not that Piddy knows what she did, or did anything at all. Piddy’s story is realistic, not only is she dealing with bullying, but also the complexities of friendship, her relationship with her mother, and finding ways in to and out of trouble.
The third book on our shelf is Loss by Jackie Morse Kessler. Loss is the third book in the Riders of the Apocalypse series, though it stands by itself. Like Eric and Piddy, Billy is having a rough time at school. Everyone picks on him — not just the students, but the teachers as well. Then he gets tapped by the Pale Rider, Death, to stand in for the White Rider, Pestilence. He does, and inadvertently releases a disease to get back at the people who treated him badly. After he finds the White Rider, and convinces him to take back his crown, Billy finds out that Pestilence has decided to destroy humanity. Billy has to decide: Stand up to Pestilence and challenge him for his crown, or allow him to annihilate everyone with disease.
Our penultimate book is Scrawl by Mark Shulman. Simply put, Tod Munn is a bully. He beats kids up, breaks their glasses, and steals their lunch money. But the more we learn about Tod from the journal he has to write in after-school detention, the more we sympathize with him and learn that bullies are people too, and perhaps it might be beneficial to imagine them complexly.
The last book on our Bystander shelf is Playground by 50 Cent. Yes, you heard me correctly. 50 Cent the rapper wrote a semi-autobiographical book about his adolescence. Butterball is frequently teased by his peers about his weight. Then one day something happens on the playground. His therapist tries to get him to talk about it, but he evades her questioning and talks about anything but. Through what he does share, readers find out how he became the guy he became. It’s a story about redemption, written with 50 Cent’s son in mind.
So that was four other books you might like if you enjoyed Bystander: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, Loss, Scrawl and Playground.
And that’s it for this episode. For the Feature Shelf archives and show notes, both video and podcast, or to request your own Feature Shelf check out thebooksupplier.com/featureshelf. You can also send me requests on Facebook or Twitter at thebooksupplier (all one word) or an email at thebooksupplier at gmail dot com.
I’m going to leave you there now, dear readers. Thanks for listening to Feature Shelf #35: The Bystander Edition. As always, I am the supplier wishing you happy reading. Don’t forget to be awesome.
Check out the show notes for similar Feature Shelves. You can find those, previous feature shelves and possible upcoming shelves at thebooksupplier.com/featureshelf.
If you’d like to recommend other books fans of Bystander might like or you’d like to request your own Feature Shelf, leave it in the comments and I’ll see you there soon. Until then, I am the supplier wishing you happy reading. Don’t forget to be awesome.