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Anti-Bullying Zone Review: "Blending In"

Jeff Erno
Dreamspinner Press, 158 pages
August 12, 2011

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"Blending In"

Blending In is one of and the first of the short stories inside Bullied's pages. And it's a story that straight away got the overlying message of the book across. I was horrified by what I witnessed happening to one of the guys in the story, the kind of craptastic and hurtful things they did to that one particular character.

Blending In features Bryan Stevens, a high school junior and an in-the-closet gay male, who works very hard to stay hidden and blend in. He doesn't know what he wants in life and has a secret crush on one of the guys in his class. He can't stand Christian Michaelson, an especially flamboyant gay student, who acts feminine and outrageous and dramatic. As an introverted person, he automatically blames Christian for any of the nasty acts done to him for his extroverted ways. He rationalizes that it's all Christian's fault that he gets bullied...

This story got to me because, when it showed the brutal things being done to poor Christian, I instantly visualized other kids in his place receiving the same torture, such as vandalism, death threats, and verbal as well as physical abuse! Pure hate crimes. I swear I almost cried because I felt helpless. I wanted to physically reach into the book and protect him! Eventually Bryan notices the toll the bullying is taking on Christian and tries his best to reach out.

It was sweet, watching Bryan's immediate growth once he witnesses the terrible things done to the other boy. And it becomes clear that he starts to admire Christian for being nothing but what he is, acting however he feels like, being whoever he wants to be. Having that courage to be different. The ending was adorable and sweet and awe-inducing, leaving me with a heartwarming sensation to take away from this first story in this collection of GBLT-based bully stories within the book.

I'll be reading a single short story from this book every week and reviewing it for my anti-bullying campaign! If you would like to help in any way, please feel free to fill out this form.

...the two cheerleaders alternating as they announce the team. The other cheerleaders are behind them, kicking and applauding, chanting the name of each player who enters the gym. Chris steps forward again, takes a deep breath, and announces, "Number thirty-seven, Troy Cooper!" The crowd goes nuts as Troy dashes out from the locker room.
The cheerleaders are chanting, "Troy! Troy! He's our boy!"
Troy takes center stage, turning to high-five each of his teammates. 
I remember the rock. I remember Chris in the office, and what he said about Troy. I stop clapping as I realize how hard this must be for him. He's up there publicly cheering his tormentor.