LitStack Review & Giveaway: “Bully” by Penelope Douglas

Series: A Fall Away Novel, Book #1
Author: Penelope Douglas
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 17, 2013
Tour Organized by: As the Pages Turn
Purchase Link: Amazon eBook I Amazon paperback


My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he’ll barely even speak to me.

But he still won’t leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I’m done hiding from him now, and there’s no way in hell I’ll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It’s time to fight back.

*This novel contains adult/mature young adult situations. It is only suitable for ages 18+ due to language, violence, and sexual situations.

**This book is the first in a series but can be read as a STAND ALONE. The next books will focus on side characters from this story.

High school hasn’t been fun for Tatum Brandt. For the past three years she’s been gossiped about, belittled and ridiculed day in and out. For Tate, what hurts most of all, is that the culprit behind all this bullying used to be her very best friend, Jared Trent.

They grew up next door to each other, riding their bikes in the street, escaping to the park and hanging out in the large tree that joins their houses, especially during rainstorms. It was an important friendship that enabled Tate to heal after her mother’s death. Then, the summer they turned fourteen, Jared visited his father. When he returned, he was not the same boy Tate always loved. He was not her friend. Jared was cruel, callous and Tate became the center of his anger.

At the opening of Bully, Tate is just returning from a year-long study abroad program in France. She enjoyed her time there – the food, the fun, the boys, the sun, and she rejoins her life in the states determined that Jared will not take her last year of high school from her.

She will fight back.

And she does – busting up his noisy parties, putting his lecherous best friend in his place and finally embracing the joys senior year should bring. But Jared’s anger is still firm and his focus on Tate becomes personal.

With Bully, Penelope Douglas explores bullying to its finite degree. Where does the anger, the fear, the betrayal come from? How far is too far and how, exactly, are bullies made?

Beneath the carefully constructed wall of protection Jared has built around himself, behind that cool, unaffected reputation he projects , is a vulnerable boy, a fractured soul. And Tate is the only person strong enough to hammer against the firm structure, to beat back years of anguish to free him from himself.

It begins when she finally confronts him, under the guise of a class monologue:

I like storms. Thunder, torrential rain, puddles, wet shoes. When the clouds roll in, I get filled with this giddy expectation. Everything is more beautiful in the rain. Don’t ask me why. But it’s like this whole other realm of opportunity. I used to feel like a superhero, riding my bike over the dangerously slick roads, or maybe an Olympic athlete enduring rough trials to make it to the finish line.

On sunny days, as a girl, I could still wake up to that thrilled feeling. You made me giddy with expectation, just like a symphonic rainstorm. You were a tempest in the sun, the thunder in a boring, cloudless sky. I remember I’d shovel in my breakfast as fast as I could, so I could go knock on your door. We’d play all day, only coming back for food and sleep. We played hide and seek, you’d push me on the swing, or we’d climb trees. Being your sidekick gave me a sense of home again. You see, when I was ten, my mom died. She had cancer, and I lost her before I really knew her. My world felt so insecure, and I was scared. You were the person that turned things right again. With you, I became courageous and free. It was like the part of me that died with my mom came back when I met you, and I didn’t hurt if I knew I had you.

Then one day, out of the blue, I lost you, too. The hurt returned, and I felt sick when I saw you hating me. My rainstorm was gone, and you became cruel. There was no explanation. You were just gone. And my heart was ripped open. I missed you. I missed my mom. What was worse than losing you, was when you started to hurt me. Your words and actions made me hate coming to school. They made me uncomfortable in my own home.

Everything still hurts, but I know none of it is my fault. There are a lot of words that I could use to describe you, but the only one that includes sad, angry, miserable, and pitiful is ‘coward.’ In a year, I’ll be gone, and you’ll be nothing but some washout whose height of existence was in high school.

You were my tempest, my thunder cloud, my tree in the downpour. I loved all those things, and I loved you. But now? You’re a fucking drought. I thought that all the assholes drove German cars, but it turns out that pricks in Mustangs can still leave scars.”

Tate’s assertive attitude and willingness to fight back – and that cutthroat monologue – knocks Jared for a loop and he begins to heal the rift he created three years previously. But can the past be rekindled? Can Tate forgive Jared for all the pain he’s caused her? Can she ever trust him again?

Bully isn’t simply a love story. It’s a story about friendship, about how our childhoods impact the people we become. It is a story of struggle, of secrets and of love that slips from adoration to unprovoked hatred.

It’s said that the depths of hatred someone feels for a past partner is directly related to how deeply in love they were. That theory is certainly exhibited in Bully. Jared’s anger, his manipulations are done, in his mind, to protect Tate, to keep her out of anyone else’s reach. But it backfires, returns to him in the form of spite and rage.

Several reviewers have argued against the concept of a character embracing the bully that has terrorized her. They have said that it isn’t feasible, that the nature of a bully is to dismantle any shred of kindness and that Tate should have never put her trust in Jared. But these reviewers, in my mind, miss the point of the novel. Bully isn’t about the strong preying on the weak. It isn’t even about the ideal that bullying is intolerable. It’s about fighting through the trauma of life, returning to what and who you love in spite of the difficulties that are forced upon you.

It’s about learning to forgive and remembering that those who truly love us, love us despite our flaws.

Readers who enjoy  books about first loves, massive amounts of sexual tension and strong girls who refuse to surrender, will thoroughly enjoy Bully.

Highly recommended.

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner.


In addition to our e-book giveaway of Bully, Douglas is offering up (3) $25 Amazon gift cards (INTL) and (5) signed copies of Bully (US/CA). For your chance to win any of these spectacular prizes, go to the Rafflecopter giveaway link here.

Check out the Bully GoodReads page to leave your review and the rest of the Bully Blog Tour for more chances to win.




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