“The Bully” and “The Gun”

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The Bully by Paul Langan

Darrell Mercer moves from Philadelphia, PA to California in the middle of his freshman year of high school. Although his neighborhood in Philly is not the best–even dangerous sometimes–he has a lot of good neighbors and friends. He doesn’t know anyone in California, but a new job opportunity for his mom makes the move necessary.

Before Darrell’s first day at Bluford High, things go wrong. A guy named Tyray bullies him and extorts money simply because Darrell has walked up to him and tried to make conversation. Darrell is not very tall and is thin. Tyray is big and muscular.

Darrell also meets a nice girl named Amberlynn, but he notices on his first day at school that she is very popular and doesn’t seem to recognize him. He sits alone in the cafeteria and wishes he could go back to Philadelphia.

Things go from bad to worse. Every week, Tyray takes all of Darrell’s money, threatening that he will beat Darrell if he doesn’t give the money to him. Darrell also notices that his young cousin beats on the cousin’s even younger brother just because he can.

What can Darrell do when he is threatened daily and his life is a nightmare? When he sees a flyer posted at school, he thinks he may have an answer, if only he has the courage to see it through.

High school housekeeping: The Bully is part of the Bluford High series and is meant for students working to improve their reading skills. The Lexile level is 700, so about the 5th grade reading level. It’s a fast-moving, action-filled read. You’ll be sickened by some of the terrible bullying that Darrell goes through, but it is realistic. It is interesting that the author makes a connection between what is happening to Darrell and what is happening to his young cousin. If you are working on your reading skills, give it a try.

The Gun by Paul Langan (later published as Payback)

Tyray Hobbs is a bully who humiliates weaker kids, extorts their lunch money, and generally sees himself as the master of his personal universe.

Funny how things can change in a day.

One of Tyray’s favorite targets is Darrell Mercer. Darrell is one of the newer kids at Bluford High–Darrell comes from Philadelphia to California as a freshman in high school. Although Tyray has bullied him for awhile (see The Bully above), Darrell has joined the wrestling team and has started to stand up to Tyray.

Seeing Darrell in the cafeteria, Tyray decides to hassle him for not giving Tyray his weekly payment. But things don’t go as planned.

So now everyone has seen that Tyray has a weak spot. The schoolwide fear of Tyray is disappearing fast. Other students make fun of him. Everyone disrespects him, and he needs to get respect back in the only way he understands it–by bringing back the fear.

And how can Tyray get that fear back into the students of Bluford High? With a gun.

High school housekeeping: The Gun is part of the Bluford High series and is meant for students working to improve their reading skills. It is also titled Payback in a newer edition. The Lexile level is 730, so about the 5th grade reading level. It’s a fast-moving, action-filled read with a white knuckler (suspenseful) ending! I couldn’t put it down. While The Gun can stand on its own, I recommend that you read The Bully first–this is a sequel, and it’s fun to know the whole story.


About Victoria Waddle

I'm a high school librarian, formerly an English teacher. I love to read and my mission is to connect people with the right books. To that end, I read widely--from the hi-lo for reluctant high school readers to the literary adult novel for the bibliophile.
This entry was posted in bullying, Family Problems, Fiction, Hi-Low/Quick Read, Read 180, Sports, Young Adult Literature and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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