Julia Jarman can be for given for thinking I’d forgotten all about her book, but the truth is that every time over the last year when I picked up Hangman, I put it down again. Something about this book, more so than other books about bullying, scared me witless. And when I had read half the book last week, I had to force myself to go on. Don’t misunderstand me. It is a very good book.

It’s almost too good, and quite possibly more realistic on the subject of bullying than many others. That’s why it’s so painful to read. Luckily the second half of the story was more bearable, because I could tell it was leading to a conclusion of sorts, even if it turned out to be very, very bad.

My conclusion, though, is that I’m not upset by the awful behaviour of the boys in the story. Children have always been like that. Always will be. I’m dreadfully disappointed in the adults, and can’t understand how they all could manage to be quite so blind and naïve, and as far as the teachers went, so unprofessional. Not a single parent seemed to know their child. Didn’t stand up for the needy child. The teachers tutted amongst themselves about the bullied boy being a funny one. Not a mixer, and shaking their heads.

Stupidity is far scarier than cunning bullies.

8 responses to “Hangman

  1. When I was young, I considered myself quite tough but after having my children I have a really soft spot when it comes to people being cruel to children. It is worse in a film, but in a book it can also be too much for me.

  2. I used to be totally insensitive, until, as you say, I became a parent. The link below shows another example of how my children found nothing scary in a book I found scariest of all.


  3. I get sent a lot of proofs to read, and these days I’m getting far too many books of the dead or dying children variety. I wish all those writers would stop it now. It’s dramatic, and it makes people cry and feel sick, but it’s not a proper genre and it’s not a proper plot. Sorry. I haven’t read this book, and I’m not saying the ones I have read are bad — some of them are quite good. I just want them to stop.

  4. This isn’t a death book, Meg. It’s good old bullying. Bizarrely, it scares me more than the death books.

  5. The TV programme ‘Boys and Girls Alone’ is interesting from this point of view, if highly dubious morally. Still, I can’t help but watch. Two separate houses of boys and girls aged 9-11 are left to fend for themselves for two weeks (bar camera crew, and several chaperons who frequently have to intervene to stop violence).

    The bullying is intense, varied, ingenious and – worst – many of the bullies seem unaware that they’re doing it. They justify it. Sometimes it’s like fascism in miniature. The Righteous ones pick a scapegoat and victimise him or her. Leaders get deposed in what can only be described as coups, and turned into the new whipping boy/girl. Yet if you buttonholed any of the bullies, you would get wide-eyed, genuine innocence, and a string of very good reasons to explain their actions.

    The editing may be a bit manipulative and unscientific, but even so, it’s a frightening insight into human nature.

  6. Oooh, sorry about getting the wrong end of the stick. I assumed from your description that it ended with someone hanging him/herself. Will have to read it myself now….

  7. Aaaaaaagh! Sorry Bookwitch! I’ve just sent you a message telling you about Hangman, and now see you’ve ‘done’ it. Is this the first sign of A .., no name the beast, Alzheimers?

    Don’t forget about Looking After Louis.

    Hope you will read Hangman, Meg. It’s not completely negative. Like you I’m tired of the recent death ‘genre’.

  8. Pingback: Who is it for? | Bookwitch

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