Review: Bully Brother: A True Story of Brotherly Heartache and Love by Craig M. Dial

FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Bully Brother: A True Story of Brotherly Love and Heartache is a true story based on the life of author Craig M. Dial between the ages of eight and sixteen. I was surely intrigued to review this book because the 1970s was always a time that interested me. The pop culture back then must’ve been one hell of time to have grown up in. Being bullied is something that every one of us book geeks can relate to, so this book landing on my lap must be a boon from above.

The author’s story begins in 1970. From the onset of the novel, Craig’s big brother David, who is stronger and bigger than him, bugs him a bit. But that is what David does most of the time. It is David’s loving side that Craig saw that made him want to be just like his big brother. And there are random things that Craig does learn from David while he grows up. Craig has a big family. The change of his mindset is essentially the most important aspect of this novel. I wouldn’t call the younger Craig exactly cowardly, but through his experiences, we learn that missing an opportunity to stand up for oneself is a clear sign of not just disrespecting others, but yourself as well. He has a brother younger than him that needs teaching as well.

Having lived in Marin County in a town called San Rafael, seeing Craig grow up is reminiscent to me because in him I saw an almost mirror reflection of my own self in my younger years. It’s a bit difficult getting through the parts where he gets bullied by his older brother, but the author shows little negativity about it. The book is enjoyable in that sense. Bullied children are usually extremely vulnerable to depression. Miserable. But the author clearly knows a thing or two about elaborating when it comes to the lives of his family members.

Dial goes out of his way to deliver easy to imagine setting descriptions. He elaborates on buildings, especially the inside as seen in the chapter where Craig gets a chance to tag along with his father to work one day. On this day, he is extremely proud of his father, who works as an office worker at a construction company. The author sees another side of his father that he doesn’t see much at home. A man who is respected and who laughs more. Sometimes he does chores around the house and it is nice to David or Craig giving him a hand.

The author’s character descriptions weren’t that good to me, but they were well enough to make me see the characters clearly. “Timmy had blonde hair, fair  complexion and was a year younger than David, but they were two peas in a pod,  always hanging out and laughing  and scheming on their siblings.” This is an example of a simple character description that could do with some elaboration. Or better, if Timmy’s personality was defined and differentiated from David’s, he would’ve seemed more realistic to me.

David’s attitude towards his younger brother is misleading because we notice that there are tidbits of goodness in him throughout the whole book. But David is like this big meanie who disguises his goodness. He loves music and has this record player for listening to music. “David bought records and kicked  us out of our room while he  listened to the record albums.” I actually loved David’s proclivity to work on his younger brother’s nerves when, whether he knows it or not, he actually turned out to be Craig’s rolemodel.

Each member of Craig’s family has a different problem to contend with, so this novel isn’t as jejune as it would’ve been if the author’s main focus were entirely on bullying. His father is hardworking and loves his mother, a stay-at-home mother who loves to bake. She can bake an assortment of treats. The author also has an older sister named Bernadette who has an eating disorder to deal with.

The author perfectly uses a more child-like narrative voice to portray his life during the 1970s in his early years. There was a brief dose of hippie culture when Craig went out with his family at one point. I wished that the author made everything that was popular during the 1970s more realistic. Not just through mentioning the popular songs songs of the time, but also through mentioning things like movies, video games, and politics during that time. If the author focused more on politics and things that happened during that time, I would’ve enjoyed this book more.

There was a shock at the last part of the novel that I didn’t expect. Though it was sad and unexpected, I had to shed a tear – what came afterward spurred me to keep more books from Craig M. Dial in mind. He looses somebody close to him and it was truly a heartbreaking moment in the book. The pain that Craig and his family felt reminded me of my own experiences, and the healing that the author eventually got was inspiring.

My compliments to Craig M. Dial for writing an amazing story that kept me enthralled throughout the whole book. I had no idea what I was in for when I started reading this book, but there was always something for me to take as a lesson. Every child has to grow up at some point and being bullied is not to be used as an excuse for going forward.

There are some amazing and iconic songs that readers can enjoy while reading this book. The author’s recommendation to readers is that they should be connected to the internet while doing so. Some of the tracks include Edison Lighthouse’s “Love grows where the Rosemary goes”, Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime”, and Simon  and  Garfunkel’s ” Cecilia. Get a copy of this book as soon as possible and enjoy the music that the author lists at the back as well.

Kindle Edition:

Publisher: Self-Published
Date Published: May 24, 2018
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 258
View on Amazon

Published by Frank Frisson

Living in Cape Town, South Africa. People often tell me that I should get out more, but I'd rather read my brains out.

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