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9 September 2013

Review: 'Myopia' by Jeff Gardiner (2013)

‘Here comes four-eyes!’
Jerry is bullied for wearing glasses. When he realises his short-sightedness is not a disability but a new way of perceiving and understanding the world around him, he begins to look at it from a new, unique perspective.

He even starts to believe he might have super-powers, but soon learns a great deal about himself and about the boy who is making his life such a misery.

Has Jerry discovered a new way of dealing with firmly held opinions?

Myopia is a novel about bullying, friendship and learning the hard way.
Several weeks ago I received a review request from author Jeff Gardiner to review his novel 'Myopia.' As all of you can read in the blurb, this novel does not sound like most of the books I usually review (chick lit, women's fiction, romance). However, 'Myopia' caught my interest because of the topic it focuses on: bullying. When I was younger I was bullied a lot at school, and it is something that has influenced my life and changed me as a person. It is a serious issue and something which I think deserves a lot of attention. Jeff Gardiner puts the spotlight on the issue of bullying in his novel, and by reviewing this novel I can hopefully raise some awareness for this topic as well!

At first glance, Jerry seems like a typical teenage boy with glasses. However, for the bullies at his school, Jerry’s glasses are enough of a reason to treat him differently from the others by calling him names, pushing him around, and basically making his life very difficult. Even though the teachers are aware of what is happening, it seems like Jerry is the only one who can make his own situation any better. When his glasses are broken, Jerry starts to look at his short-sightedness from a different angle, and suddenly he finds a way to feel special and perhaps a way to deal with everything that’s being thrown his way.

‘Myopia’ is a novel that focuses on bullying, and Jeff Gardiner managed to do this very realistically. Teenagers can be really harsh, and the things Jerry experiences aren’t sugar-coated. The character of Jerry goes through different phases: trying to ignore the bullying, feeling horrible about all of it, dreaming of having super powers so he can get rid of all the bullies. This novel deals with ordinary, every-day people and I think every reader will be able to recognise him- or herself in one character; whether it’s the person who’s being bullied, a bystander or the one who does the bullying. Different characters are introduced, such as Mindy (the girl whom Jerry develops a crush on) and Wayno (the biggest bully at Jerry’s school), each of them taking on a specific and important role in the bullying game. I specifically liked Mr. Quincy Finn, one of the teachers at Jerry’s school, who serves as a good example of what a teacher should be like, looking out for the kids and trying to stop the bullying in whatever way he can.

Even though the plotline developed rather quickly and there’s an interesting mix of characters, I somehow missed something in this book. I didn’t really connect with Jerry or any of the other characters; I wasn’t able to get into the story like I usually do with other novels. However, this is something personal, and I do think ‘Myopia’ would serve as a great read for pupils at secondary schools, for example as part of the reading list for English classes. It is a great starting point for a discussion about bullying, while at the same time an enjoyable and interesting read. I’d definitely recommend this book to teachers or grown-ups who have to deal with the issue of bullying, but at the same time I think every reader will be able to recognise bits of him- or herself in this story.

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