Every day, all over the country, teenagers struggle with the realities of bullying. Tormented, ridiculed, and beaten—simply for being who they are—these teens face alienation, humiliation, and even the explicit assertion that they have somehow brought this upon themselves, that they should just blend in. Bullied is a series of short stories exploring the world of these teens from several different viewpoints: the victim, the bully, the gay bystander, the straight friend, the concerned parent.
Closeted Bryan wonders why Christian doesn't just try to blend in if he hates being bullied so much. Star athlete David isn't a homophobe—after all, he's not afraid of anything. Jonathan, a Christian fundamentalist, must weigh the Bible against peer pressure and what he knows is right when he discovers his childhood friend is gay. Bully victim Chase finds an unexpected ally in a brave fellow student. A single mom struggles to accept the reality that her only son is gay. Two tough gay teens are forced to confront their own inner demons when tragedy befalls a classmate they failed to help. And overweight Kirby finds the strength of character to make a friend, which leads to a lifestyle change and a chance at love. Each character grows as an individual as he or she comes to terms with what it means to be a gay teenager in America.
Winner, Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention, 2011
Praise for Bullied
“I found each [story] to be a passionate and powerful statement against the bullying that goes on in our nation's schools and even at home... These stories may be fiction, but they felt quite real to me. They made me think, broke my heart, and reminded me that while the teenaged years may be a carefree time for some young people, this time can spell darkness and torment for others. Hopefully, collections such as Bullied can help raise public awareness of this issue, because we must first acknowledge that the problem exists before we can addresses the terrible harm that it does. Excellent job, Mr. Erno.” MORE...Bobby D. Whitney, BookWenches
“Despite the horrific portrayals of bullying and the painful aftermaths, a strong line of hope runs through the stories. People make mistakes and yes, the issue of teen suicide is addressed very directly as well (consider that a trigger warning), but characters also learn important lessons, become brave despite personal costs, and even overcome their biases... There isn’t a bad story in this collection, and overall Erno’s solid writing skills make even a difficult subject matter like teen bullying and bigotry readable. It is refreshing to see such topics treated both realistically and hopefully, which is what really makes this collection worth owning and reading and sharing with others.” MORE...Cooper West, Love Without Boundaries
“Jeff Erno is to be commended for not only writing these stories but for the approaches that he has used. We all should be as brave as our author here. His stories are very real and deal with problems that are too real. The book is like a floodlight in a wilderness showing us how to leave the area and find new hope and understanding. Together we can out an end to bullying and one way to do this is to have more books like this. Everything about this book is excellent and I must also compliment the cover.” MORE...Amos Lassen, Reviews by Amos Lassen
“Heartfelt, saddening, and hopeful. It made me want to make a difference in the world, or at least my part of it. It made me want to support my friends instead of teasing and mocking, which comes so easily.” MORE...Alex W., Between the Covers
“What I found to be particularly wonderful was how seamlessly Mr. Erno got inside his character’s heads and portrayed them as if he were living through them on the pages. The story had a very young adult feel to it, and indeed, while the topic is heavy and serious, the book could easily be classified as young adult. But it was that tone and feel which made this story come alive. For bullying affects us all, but teenagers are the ones who are faced with the burden of dealing with the heart-wrenching pain while inequipped with years of experience and maturity to guide them through the difficult times. Overall, the message of Bullied is positive and filled with hope. I encourage lovers of reading to pick this book up as not only a series of well-written stories, but also as a masterfully crafted portrait of an endemic issue in today’s society.” MORE...Doug, Dark Divas Reviews
“It's been a long time since I was in high school, and though there was bullying then, it pales in comparison to what kids today must deal with. Though we read it in the papers, through his writing Mr. Erno allows us to feel the despair, the pain, the hatred, and every other imaginable emotion. And then he gives us hope, leaving us with a positive message: that if we don't allow bullying, it can't happen. May we soon see that day when no child has to fear.” MORE...Eden Winters, Author of Diversion
“I think this was one of the most heart-warming books I've ever read. I don't know if it's in the M/M romance category, but it honestly should be more like a self help book for parents of gay kids and gay kids who are being bullied. The stories all offer hope for the kids and maybe parents can take away a little better understanding of the things their "out" kids have to go through day in and day out.” MORE...Allison Cassatta, Author of Sins of the Heart
“As someone who was bullied in high school and, I’m ashamed to say, did a fair share of bullying I highly recommend Mr. Erno’s book to everyone who wants something real that will touch you and stay with you days after you reach the end.” MORE...Joe, ManOhMan Reviews
“his book meant a great deal to me and wish with all my heart that it had been around when I was a teen in high school dealing with many of the issues that the boys in this book had to face. I grew up in a different generation and the recourses for gay teens were still years away.” MORE...Randy W., Randy's Bookbag Reviews
“What makes this book truly special is the talent the author has to make each character believable. From the bully, to the victim, or the mom trying to wrap her mind around her son being gay. It was like reading a story about real people, and their struggles. Though you might think. Man, this book sounds depressing. This book mostly is about friendship, love and the power to overcome all.” Darien, Three Dollar Bill Reviews
“I cried a few times while reading these stories of triumph. I was so afraid that these stories would leave me feeling depressed but instead they left me with hope. Thanks Jeff for such an enjoyable read.” MORE...Vonda, Top 2 Bottom Reviews
“This book is definitely one I would recommend, not just to the younger generation that are homosexual but to any of the younger generation that have bullied or have been bullied. It really does hit home and teaches some profound lessons on what it’s like to be in both positions, as well as going in depth into the mind of both the bully and the victim.” MORE...Kitty, Great Minds Think Aloud Publishing
“Each story contains a thread of hope and many left me feeling happy that things are changing for the victim, mostly because of the actions of a friend and the knowledge that the victim is no longer alone in their struggles... As well as being about bullying, the stories are also about the struggles that teenagers face in school, in their friendships and in their relationships with adults. It would the ideal book to give to a teenager who is struggling with bullying.” MORE...Jen, Well Read
“I remember being bullied in school, but today the bullies don't seem to know how to stop. Many adults turn a blind eye if the bullies are popular instead of protecting the victim. It is everyone's responsibility to look for signs of teasing before it is blown into full-blown bullying. I for one hope that this book and others like it can become recommended reading in schools to prevent the fear and isolation that the victims feel. If it gives just one person the courage to speak out or saves one person's life it could change the world!” MORE...Teresa, Fallen Angel Reviews
Read an Excerpt from Bullied
Invisible is one of several short stories in the collection Bullied and is offered here as a free read.
In Invisible, the bullying victim's voice is heard. Chase Devereaux is fifteen, and he's terrified when he has to give a speech in his oral communications class. To make matters worse, though, he has a really hard day when he falls victim to an episode of merciless bullying in gym class. Worst of all, his humiliation is witnessed by the boy of Chase's dreams.