cw// sexual assault, mental health, suicide
Every since I read Who Killed My Daughter? by Lois Duncan–probably a little younger than I should have–I’ve loved true crime books. When I received a digital copy of BULLIED TO DEATH: A Story Of Bullying, Social Media, And The Suicide Of Sherokee Harriman by Judith A. Yates from NetGalley, I was eager to begin reading.
BULLIED TO DEATH, which was published in April 2018, pieces together the life and suicide of fourteen-year-old Sherokee (pronounced Cherokee) Harriman in Tennessee. One day, Sherokee walked to her neighborhood park and stabbed herself in front of a group of peers–a group of bullies. Yates then spends the rest of the novel talking about Sherokee’s life–including her mental health issues, sexual assault, her home environment, and her struggles in school–and how her death impacted her family, friends and bullies. Throughout the narrative, we are also given posts and poems from Sherokee’s social media sites that allude to her lack of self confidence and how other kids treat her at school.
However, while the cover and book description leads readers to believe that Yates will be discussing how social media and bullying impact today’s young people–that is only a very small part of this book. Instead, we get a detailed view of all the horrors and struggles Sherokee dealt with leading up to her suicide, including sexual assault by her mother’s boyfriend, how she struggled with bipolar disorder and PTSD, how teachers showed little care in helping her progress academically, and how her family dynamics contributed to her anger issues. Despite the difficult subject matters, BULLIED TO DEATH is a quick and easy read–almost too easy for my tastes; I was able to finish in less than two days. However, the description and the cover definitely sets different expectations for readers and, as someone with an interest in social media and its impacts, was disappointing that BULLIED TO DEATH didn’t deliver.
Best binged with: coffee, no room for sugar or cream, to help wake you up the how our school systems, government, and mental health professionals are continuing to fail youth.
[I received a digital, advanced reading copy from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.]