Title: Bully Brother
Author: Craig M. Dial
“I followed him in my childhood years because I felt I could see all the good he was, even when he wasn’t being kind to me. His spirit helped me feel all the happiness he had inside his soul; I sensed the pureness of what he wanted for himself; and I loved him unconditionally because of all these things. The bullying hurt, but somehow I knew who he really was at his core, and I knew he loved me. “
Bully Brother is a non-fiction book written about the life of the author, Craig M. Dial, growing up in the 70s and the things he experienced as a kid and his relationship with his family. Although the narrative focuses on Craig, his brother David is often the subject of the narration because Craig’s desire to show how cruel he was, was important to the narrative. However, by the end, this book is more about the way we choose to love people who hurt us because we love them, and I liked how that message unfolded throughout the novel.
What I liked about this book was its honesty; as a true story, I’m sure Dial didn’t want to sugar-coat anything in the book in order to properly convey what he experienced as a child, and I think he achieves this nicely. I also really loved all the references to music and other markers to show what era the book is set in – it really helped give it some authenticity. It was also interesting to see the things Dial remembered from his childhood, such as his decision to make slingshots and sell them to his friends, and the first jobs he had, and how excited he was at their salaries.
Non-fiction is always a bit difficult in that, because it’s real life, you can’t make up fantastical and far-fetched plot points in order to keep the reader engaged, so the biggest problem with this book is that it was just too plain. Sure, the bullying Dial experiences when he was a child doesn’t sound nice at all, but overall, there was never much sense of danger, trepidation, or fear in this book, everything felt very safe.
That being said, it was enjoyable to read a book which was simply about a family and their dynamic and relationships with each other, and it was also very interesting to see that despite Dial’s brother David relentlessly bullying him, they still loved each other as brothers, and Dial looked up to him, no matter how he behaved.
Bully Brother explores the unconditional love you possess for your family, despite their misgivings. Dial’s book is safe, and mostly uneventful, but I liked its comfortable feeling. Sometimes there’s something interesting in reading about the unextraordinary, and Bully Brother will make you think more about how we choose to forgive those around us, even when they might not deserve it.