In a taut, brilliantly controlled novel, Prose (After) dissects the unspoken dynamics that create bullies and their intended victims. Bart Rangely, the narrator, has begun eighth grade when his father dies in one of the Twin Towers on 9/11, and because his mother would have been at the same office except for Bart's illness that day, he achieves unwanted fame as the Miracle Boy. (Nobody knows that Bart's dad had left his mom for another woman.) The publicity lands Bart a full scholarship to prestigious nearby Bailywell Prep, known to the locals-with good reason-as Bullywell. The scenario Prose then unfolds is all the more chilling because it is not especially outrageous but, rather, recognizable. Bart's mentor, Tyro Bergen, "too handsome to pass for a regular kid," steadily persecutes Bart, and although he eventually retaliates, Bart feels obligated to protect his mother's illusions about Bailywell. The headmaster accommodates the deep pockets of Tyro's parents, who fund Bart's scholarship and have their own reasons for confusing the manipulation of others with compassion and generosity. Few YA authors tackle issues of class so smoothly: the school, a microcosm of privilege, has no room for a middle-class kid unless he is cast as a lesson for the others, and the Bergens, Bart realizes, will always be allowed to write the lesson plan. The pace is quick, and the characters' motivations on target and revelatory. Connecting grief, rage and violence, Prose's insights are piercing and powerful. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Bullyvilleby Francine Prose
My father was killed on 9/11.
When eighth grader Bart Rangely is granted a "mercy" scholarship to an elite private school after his father is killed in the North Tower, doors should have opened. Instead, he is terrorized and bullied by his own mentor. So begins the worst year of his life.See more details below
My father was killed on 9/11.
When eighth grader Bart Rangely is granted a "mercy" scholarship to an elite private school after his father is killed in the North Tower, doors should have opened. Instead, he is terrorized and bullied by his own mentor. So begins the worst year of his life.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.00(w) x 7.12(h) x 1.00(d)
- Age Range:
- 12 - 17 Years
Read an Excerpt
The school I went to, that worst year of my life, was officially known as Baileywell Preparatory Academy. But everyone called it Bullywell Prep. Or Bullyville Prep. Or sometimes, Bullyreallywell Prep. Because that was what it prepared you for. You learned to bully or be bullied, and to do it really well.
Perched high on a hill above our town so you could see it for miles, the school looked like a scaled-down, cheesy medieval castle. The walls were gray stones, large and rough as boulders. Once, in English class, a kid whom everyone called Ex (as in, Can we do this extra thing for extra credit?) read a poem he'd written (for extra credit) about an ancient race of giants rolling stones up Bailey Mountain to build Baileywell Prep so that famous knights in armor could go there.
O Monster Masons!
How we honor your dream
That we Baileywellers would be in these seats today
Like Lancelot and Aragorn
Enjoying the fruits of your giant labors.
The poem went on for about an hour. Or so it seemed, just as it seemed to me the giants must have been seriously retarded to imagine that King Arthur or the Lord of the Rings would want to attend a freezing, bully-ridden, all-boys boarding school on the highest point in Hillbrook, New Jersey. On clear days you could spot the school's tower barely peeping out from under the toxic cloud that hung constantly over our high-priced (if you didn't count our block) and rich (if you didn't count our family) but severely polluted suburb. The kids at Bullywell, most of whom came from somewhere else, called thetown Hellbrook. The kids I'd grown up with called it Hellbrook, too, but that was our privilege, we'd earned it. It was our town, we'd lived there all our lives.
Among the things I never understood about Baileywell was why everything and everyone had to have a nickname. In all the time I was there, I never learned the real names of kids I knew only as Pork or Dog or Buff. The gym was "the sweat lodge," the dining hall—the refectory—was "the slop shop." Our headmaster, Dr. Bratton, was never called anything but Dr. Bratwurst. In fact, he did look a little like a sausage that had figured out how to walk around on remarkably tiny feet and wear glasses and one of those unstylish college-professor tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows.
The school's main building, Bracknell Hall, was known as Break-knuckles Hall. It had a pointed roof and notched turrets. Most likely they were just meant to be decorative—unless some crazed architect actually imagined that a crack team of archers or sharpshooters might someday need to defend the school from an invading army. But who would want to capture it? No one even wanted to go there. A tower rose from the highest point on the roof, but no one ever climbed it. The entrance to the tower had been permanently bricked shut, supposedly for safety and insurance purposes.
But there was another story, which Bullywell students and the rest of the town did, and didn't, believe. People said that some long-ago bullies, pioneers of the school's great tradition, had chased their victim into the tower and sealed it off and he'd died there, and the school had hushed it up. On windy nights, people said, you could still hear the dead kid screaming for his mom and dad.
People told lots of stories about Bullywell Prep. They said a gang of bullies had drowned one kid in a pot of split pea soup, and at lunch the next day his eyeballs bubbled up to the surface of the music teacher's bowl. They said that, in the dead of night, ambulances pulled up to the back gate and picked up kids who'd been bullied until they were hopelessly insane, and carted them off to mental asylums from which they never returned. They said that every year, at the Bullywell graduation, there was always one kid whose brain had been so destroyed he couldn't even remember how to say thank you when they handed him his diploma.
I'd heard all those stories—and scarier ones—before I started at Bullywell. But what happened to me there seemed even worse, I guess because it happened to me.
Through seventh grade, I'd gone, like most of the kids in my town, to Hillbrook Middle School. And before that, we'd all gone to Hillbrook Elementary. School was school, no one thought about it all that much. It was just a place we went, something we did every day.
In class, me and my friends had long ago figured out how to stay in constant communication and still keep quiet enough to not wind up in the principal's office. We listened—or pretended to listen—to our teachers. We did exactly as much homework as we had to, and not one minute, not one second, more. Already my mom had started saying I should begin thinking ahead, to college, but that was way much farther ahead than I could imagine.
As far as I was concerned, school was where I got to hang out with my friends, most of whom I'd known since the first grade. Lunch and gym were the best parts of the day, though none of us—me, Mike Bannerjee, Tim Reilly, Josh Levine, and Ted Nakamura—were all that good in gym. We didn't care about playing on the teams, but nobody gave us a hard time. The other kids seemed to like us okay. We were flying miles under the radar, and that was where we liked it. We laughed a lot, we had fun.
Looking back, I can see how safe and sheltered and naive we were. None of us realized how we should have been thanking our lucky stars that we were at Hillbrook rather than Baileywell.
At Hillbrook Middle School, even the teachers made jokes about Bullywell. When a kid acted up in class, a teacher might say something like, "Young man, maybe the best thing for you would be a semester at Baileywell." Then everyone would giggle nervously, as if the teacher had said that the best thing for the kid would be to smear him all over with honey and tie him down on an anthill swarming with stinging red ants.Bullyville. Copyright � by Francine Prose. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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