Monday, November 18, 2013

Guest Post – Breakable and Bullying

Aimee Salter, former YAtopian, has stopped by to talk to YAtopians about bullying in relation to her book Breakable.

There’s been a lot of attention in recent reviews of my book about the fact that the main character is bullied. Really bullied. Thankfully, so far the reviewers seem to understand that this is an issue which is important and real. What surprised me was the thoughtful commentary they included in their reviews – particularly here.

But I hit an interesting obstacle when I was original writing and having Breakable critiqued: Some of the people reading for me hadn’t experienced (or apparently witnessed) real bullying, in real time. I was told more times than I could count that the content was unrealistic, implausible, or hard to believe. Considering I’d drawn from my own experience, and those of friends, and in many cases toned down the content, I found this a little ironic.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think every writer has a responsibility to bring the reader “along for the ride”, and I’ve made adjustments to Stacy’s narrative, and parts of her story in an effort to help those without personal experience of bullying relate to her journey.

But I was bullied in high school. I know firsthand that this issue is deadly serious. Headlines aside, there are silent, unnoticed kids (and adults!) out there every day whose lives are difficult, tragic, stress-filled, and miserable. And I know the words and fists in their day-to-day existence create impressions. And they’ll take those impressions into themselves, begin to believe what they’re being told, and carry those messages for years – in some cases, for the rest of their lives.

Now, I didn’t write Breakable to be a “bullying book”. I don’t offer any answers within its pages (except perhaps, a friend / family member’s guide to what not to do). But I’m glad that the issue hasn’t escaped notice.

See, whether it’s happened to  you or not, bullying is a serious issue, and not just because it can make teenage girls cry, or because a boy comes home with a bruise.

It’s a serious issue because it changes how people see themselves. In desperate, catastrophic ways.

Bullying isn’t a euphemism for teasing, or not getting along, or a personality clash. Bullying is targeted, ongoing, insidious, and cruel. It can’t be “disciplined” out. It won’t stop because someone tells the perpetrator that it’s wrong. And the target can’t always avoid it, even when they want to.

It doesn’t get better on its own.

Whether you read my book or not, I hope you take bullying seriously. Because I can promise you, no one in the headlines woke up that morning thinking they’d end up there. No one who killed themselves did it on a whim. There were always signs. So why didn’t people notice?

I think they did. The question I always have is, how do the people around those in the headlines feel when they realize what’s happened? If they knew the bully or the bullied? If they saw altercations? Or had a friend crying on their couch…?

Can they forgive themselves for not trying harder to do something?

Could you?

Your Turn: How do you feel about recent bullying headlines? In your opinion, does the media coverage help or hinder?

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

When seventeen-year-old Stacy looks in the mirror she can see and talk to her future self. “Older Me” has been Stacy's secret support through the ongoing battle with their neurotic mother, relentless bullying at school, and dealing with her hopeless love for her best friend, Mark.

Then Stacy discovers Older Me is a liar.

Still reeling from that betrayal, Stacy is targeted again by her most persistent tormentor. Only this time, he's used her own artwork to humiliate her - and threaten her last chance with Mark.

She’s reached breaking point.


"Original. Authentic. Heart-breaking. BREAKABLE has officially become one of my favorites!" -New York Times Bestselling Author, Cora Carmack

Read the opening chapters on Goodreads.

Aimee L. Salter spent much of her young (and not-so-young) life in
New Zealand. After picking up a Kiwi husband and son, she’s recently returned to her home in Oregon.

Aimee writes novels for teens and the occasional adult who, like herself, is still in touch with their inner-high schooler.

Aimee is the author behind Seeking the Write Life, a resource blog for writers at You can also find her on Twitter ( and Facebook (

You can purchase Breakable on (paperback and for Kindle), and at (for Nook).  Or add it to your Goodreads To-Read list here.


  1. PS - In many ways these issues apply just as strongly to the bullies. They are often acting out behavior they see or experience, either at home or elsewhere. Many bullies at school are victims too. It's frightening.

  2. Very interesting article. And while I haven't read your book yet, bullying is something I experienced growing up and see more often than I'd like to as a teacher. I'm not sure about media coverage as that isn't as emphasized here (Finland) but I can say that the anti-bullying education our kids receive at schools sometimes becomes counter-productive because it becomes an incessant drone that bores and desensitized teens to the actual problem. At least, there are anti-bullying programs in place and schools are taking it seriously. I only hope it's making a difference for the victims.

    1. That's an interesting point, Suzanne. I do wonder whether some kids are becoming a little flippant about it, purely through "overexposure". Though, how to find the tipping point between that and ignoring? It's a tricky balance. But hopefully we've moved in the right direction at least!