Gilbert Ohanian

“Is there a bully in your life that you don’t know how to deal with? I had one too. It prompted me to write ‘Chestnuts: A True Story About Being Bullied,’ a book outlining practical strategies for defending against bullies and resolving the conflict and aggression that often plagues victims of bullying. Inside these pages, I will take you through my own harrowing journey with bullies–from boarding school beat-ups, to violent attacks from crazed skinheads on the streets of London, to bullies in a public school of America. In each chapter a reflection of my personal story will show you what I did wrong, and how you can actually defend yourself in this modern day and age.”
My Review:
Bullying is something that, as a teacher, I do not put up with. As a mom, I don’t put up with it. There’s definitely a zero tolerance policy on bullying in my house. However, a couple of my kids have been bullied at school. My children have been physically harmed, and they have been verbally and emotionally bullied as well. Our school does have a zero bullying policy, but it’s not always easy to see happening when it’s verbal or emotional. When I have brought it up with principals and teachers they have taken it seriously and it has stopped. It’s not as easy when the kids are in junior high, so it’s been more difficult to take care of there. Anyway, I’m telling you this to let you know that I am no stranger to bullying. I think it is a topic that needs to be discussed continually with children at home and at school. This is a very important subject, and so I was glad to hear from Mr. Ohanian about reviewing his book. His story is tragic. It broke my heart to read about everything he went through during his childhood. There were definitely things that his school leaders could have done differently to help him, and there were things that he also could have done differently, but looking back doesn’t change anything. What happened, happened. I’m glad that he was brave enough to speak out and tell his story. It’s important for people to read about and understand the dynamics of bullying. There are some good aspects to this book. Speaking out against bullying is always important and beneficial. He gives some good ideas on how to deal with bullies, and he writes about the things he could have handled differently. Those are all good things. Reading about his story will definitely help others to speak out against bullying. Unfortunately, this book needs to be edited. A lot. It’s written from the heart, but he discusses several situations that are not relevant to the story at all. Also, it may be written from the heart, but there are many grammatical errors and portions of the book that do not flow well or transition well. One other thing that bothered me was that he is not a psychologist or doctor. I understand that he lived through these situations, but I wasn’t sure if the advice he gives in the book is just his philosophy or if it’s sound advice from bullying experts. Does that make sense? He does cite many articles in this book, so I know that he did research into best practices. I hesitate to state these things because he has endured a lot of criticism in his life, and I don’t want to add to that. It is a very sad story, and I feel terrible that he had to endure such hardships in his life. I think this book has a lot of potential, and I hope that he will find a great editor and publish a second edition.  
Rating: PG+ (There is no profanity or “intimacy,” except for maybe a brief kiss. There is a lot of violence in this book. He is beaten-up, harassed, and bullied. Some of the stories are difficult to read because of how harsh they are.)
Recommendation: 13 years-old and up (YA)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.