Monday, August 21, 2006

Endgame, by Nancy Garden

Gray Wilton is a bully magnet -- attracting unwanted attention from the meanest guys at school. After an incident at his former school where he pulled a knife, his family relocates and Gray hopes things will work out better. But they don't. After the bullies go after him, his girlfriend, and his dog, he's basically pushed to the limits and responds in the only way he feels is left to him.

From the preface, it is apparent that this book was written as an attempt to explain the emotional motivation behind the Littleton CO shootings, but the events are only vaguely similiar. What is chillingly familiar is the account of bullying and ostracism, the general inability of the adults to rise to their responsibilities, and the sense of helplessness that infects the victim until they become the aggressor. What is more than a bit disturbing is that very little remains tied up at the end, except for Garden to suddenly jump the fence in the last four pages and demonize her hero herself. I don't mind that she didn't want a happy ending, but I resent being made to like Gray and then have this last minute dessertion.

I'll respond at a sheer emotional level to the story since I was a victim of bullying and felt many of the same frustrations that the character Gray felt. I even once pulled a knife on the bullies once (with somewhat less traumatic results since the 70s were more forgiving than the 00's), but reading this rekindled many of those older angers and a realization that very little has ever changed. Levels of harassment that would never be tolerated in adult workplaces are regularly smiled at by the alleged authorities (while token cases of overreaction -- usually directed at the victims since the real agressors are too closely tied to the power structure -- create an illusion of control). *whew* That sure was a visceral reaction wasn't it? Anyway, it's a good book in the sense that it will outrage you, but I never want to read it again...

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