My father was killed on 9/11.
Everybody in town knows we lost him forever when the North Tower collapsed.
What they don't know is that he was gone long before that day.
What they don't know is that a scholarship to exclusive Baileywell Academy only made my life worse.
What they don't know is that my mentor at Baileywell is my own personal terrorist.
Everybody calls me Miracle Boy.
What nobody knows is that it's a miracle I'm still here to tell you the real story about the worst year of my life.
From nationally acclaimed author Francine Prose comes an unforgettable novel about disasters, both public and private, and the aftermath of tragedy.
About the Author
Francine Prose is the author of twenty-one works of fiction, including Mister Monkey; the New York Times bestseller Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932; A Changed Man, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize; and Blue Angel, a finalist for the National Book Award. Her works of nonfiction include Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim, a Fulbright, and a Director’s Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, she is a former president of PEN American Center and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in New York City.
Hometown:New York, New York
Date of Birth:April 1, 1947
Place of Birth:Brooklyn, New York
Education:B.A., Radcliffe College, 1968
Read an Excerpt
The school I went to, that worst year of my life, was officially known as Baileywell Preparatory Academy. But everyone called it Bullywell Prep. Or Bullyville Prep. Or sometimes, Bullyreallywell Prep. Because that was what it prepared you for. You learned to bully or be bullied, and to do it really well.
Perched high on a hill above our town so you could see it for miles, the school looked like a scaled-down, cheesy medieval castle. The walls were gray stones, large and rough as boulders. Once, in English class, a kid whom everyone called Ex (as in, Can we do this extra thing for extra credit?) read a poem he'd written (for extra credit) about an ancient race of giants rolling stones up Bailey Mountain to build Baileywell Prep so that famous knights in armor could go there.
O Monster Masons!
How we honor your dream
That we Baileywellers would be in these seats today
Like Lancelot and Aragorn
Enjoying the fruits of your giant labors.
The poem went on for about an hour. Or so it seemed, just as it seemed to me the giants must have been seriously retarded to imagine that King Arthur or the Lord of the Rings would want to attend a freezing, bully-ridden, all-boys boarding school on the highest point in Hillbrook, New Jersey. On clear days you could spot the school's tower barely peeping out from under the toxic cloud that hung constantly over our high-priced (if you didn't count our block) and rich (if you didn't count our family) but severely polluted suburb. The kids at Bullywell, most of whom came from somewhere else, called thetown Hellbrook. The kids I'd grown up with called it Hellbrook, too, but that was our privilege, we'd earned it. It was our town, we'd lived there all our lives.
Among the things I never understood about Baileywell was why everything and everyone had to have a nickname. In all the time I was there, I never learned the real names of kids I knew only as Pork or Dog or Buff. The gym was "the sweat lodge," the dining hall—the refectory—was "the slop shop." Our headmaster, Dr. Bratton, was never called anything but Dr. Bratwurst. In fact, he did look a little like a sausage that had figured out how to walk around on remarkably tiny feet and wear glasses and one of those unstylish college-professor tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbows.
The school's main building, Bracknell Hall, was known as Break-knuckles Hall. It had a pointed roof and notched turrets. Most likely they were just meant to be decorative—unless some crazed architect actually imagined that a crack team of archers or sharpshooters might someday need to defend the school from an invading army. But who would want to capture it? No one even wanted to go there. A tower rose from the highest point on the roof, but no one ever climbed it. The entrance to the tower had been permanently bricked shut, supposedly for safety and insurance purposes.
But there was another story, which Bullywell students and the rest of the town did, and didn't, believe. People said that some long-ago bullies, pioneers of the school's great tradition, had chased their victim into the tower and sealed it off and he'd died there, and the school had hushed it up. On windy nights, people said, you could still hear the dead kid screaming for his mom and dad.
People told lots of stories about Bullywell Prep. They said a gang of bullies had drowned one kid in a pot of split pea soup, and at lunch the next day his eyeballs bubbled up to the surface of the music teacher's bowl. They said that, in the dead of night, ambulances pulled up to the back gate and picked up kids who'd been bullied until they were hopelessly insane, and carted them off to mental asylums from which they never returned. They said that every year, at the Bullywell graduation, there was always one kid whose brain had been so destroyed he couldn't even remember how to say thank you when they handed him his diploma.
I'd heard all those stories—and scarier ones—before I started at Bullywell. But what happened to me there seemed even worse, I guess because it happened to me.
Through seventh grade, I'd gone, like most of the kids in my town, to Hillbrook Middle School. And before that, we'd all gone to Hillbrook Elementary. School was school, no one thought about it all that much. It was just a place we went, something we did every day.
In class, me and my friends had long ago figured out how to stay in constant communication and still keep quiet enough to not wind up in the principal's office. We listened—or pretended to listen—to our teachers. We did exactly as much homework as we had to, and not one minute, not one second, more. Already my mom had started saying I should begin thinking ahead, to college, but that was way much farther ahead than I could imagine.
As far as I was concerned, school was where I got to hang out with my friends, most of whom I'd known since the first grade. Lunch and gym were the best parts of the day, though none of us—me, Mike Bannerjee, Tim Reilly, Josh Levine, and Ted Nakamura—were all that good in gym. We didn't care about playing on the teams, but nobody gave us a hard time. The other kids seemed to like us okay. We were flying miles under the radar, and that was where we liked it. We laughed a lot, we had fun.
Looking back, I can see how safe and sheltered and naive we were. None of us realized how we should have been thanking our lucky stars that we were at Hillbrook rather than Baileywell.
At Hillbrook Middle School, even the teachers made jokes about Bullywell. When a kid acted up in class, a teacher might say something like, "Young man, maybe the best thing for you would be a semester at Baileywell." Then everyone would giggle nervously, as if the teacher had said that the best thing for the kid would be to smear him all over with honey and tie him down on an anthill swarming with stinging red ants.Bullyville. Copyright © by Francine Prose. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Bart Rangley's dad dies in the World Trade Center attacks (after leaving him and his mother for a younger woman) causing confusion and grief. Bart gets invited to go to a private prep school known for its severe bullying problem and the inevitable happens. After a particularly horrible incident he vandalizes the family car of his chief tormentor and has to do some community service helping very sick kids in a hospital. He bonds with Nola, who then dies, and he finds out that it was his tormentor's sister. He goes back to public school at the end of the year.
Promising, but it didn't live up to expectations. Forgettable. *12/25/10
I picked up this book just based on the cover and I ended up being very disappointed in it. I know that may not be completely fair, but it is what it is. Based on the cover, I expected it to be just based on a boarding school and didn't realize it had the background story of September 11th.I feel that the whole September 11th plot was unnecessary and didn't add anything. The main idea seems to be that Bart goes to this school and deals with bullying. I don't know why 9/11 had to be the vehicle to get him there... It's not that I have a problem with 9/11 being used in a story, exactly, it's just that it didn't seem like a book about 9/11. Instead it was just a part of the background and I found it weird.Between the first half of the book dealing with the attacks and then the second half with the school, it felt like I was reading two completely books. Three, really, once you get towards the end, but I don't want to give too much away in case you're interested in reading it. I can't say I think it's worth it though.
My father was killed on 9/11. Everybody in town knows knows we lost him forever when the North Tower collapsed/ What they don't know is that he was gone long before that day. What they don't know is that a schlorship to exclusive Baileywell Academy only made my life worse. What they don't know is that my mentor at Baileywell is my own personal terrorist. Everybody calls me Miracle Boy. What nobody knows is taht it's a miracle I'm still here to tell you the real story about the worst year in my life.
this book is a very interesting book
When Bart Rangely's absentee father is caught in the North Tower and killed on September 11th, he thinks that life can't get much worse.
Unfortunately, he thinks too soon.
Because of the public nature of his tragedy, Bart is offered a scholarship to the exclusive Baileywell Academy, an institution better known to its students as "Bullywell" for the rampant bullying that takes place behind its expensive doors.
Upon his arrival, Bart is assigned his own personal tormentor, Tyro Bergen, and his life descends into hell. But when he tries to retaliate, and is assigned volunteer work at a hospital for punishment, he finds a friend in an unlikely place, and discovers that sometimes a bully is hiding more from the world than his venom, and that things are not always
precisely what they seem.
The idea most compelling to me in BULLYVILLE is the world of the bullied, a world all but invisible to the adults responsible for the safety of its inhabitants. It is easy to imagine the story descending quickly into darkness and remaining there for the duration of the book.
Instead, Francine Prose presents a story that is at its core violence and personal disaster while still maintaining an uplifting tone. Bart Rangely is a funny, charming protagonist who keeps the story light even when dealing with its most serious concepts. I enjoyed Bart's tale immensely, and anyone who has been touched by bullying will identify with his dilemma.
The book Bullyville by Francine Prose was much interesting. It all starrtee with a 13 year old boy named Bart Rangely who was sent to a top of the line preportory academy. The bad thing about it was his welcome wasn't pleasant at all for him. imagine your father dying on 9/11 also knowing you saved your mother from the same terrible tragedy. Being bullied was tearing bart apart, by using cruel joke and abused. for example: by pouring ketchup all over his hamburger at lunch, then another time where he put dog fecies all over barts locker. In the mist of it all he found himself connecting with tyro bergens little sister Nola, who was very ill, that why bart can't her company two day out of the week. Bart was a victim of group of kids who took all the problems out on him. His friend nola and bart family especially his mother keep him strong. Through this journey bart has ventured thru ups and downs. 'What doesn't kill you makes you stonger'! In that case it did for bart. Till this day bart will never forget the day his step foot into Baily wells preportory academy.
I read Prose's After and fell in love with it the plot, the writing, everything. One thing about Prose is that, no matter WHAT the plot is, it always has tragedy. And Francine Prose writes tragedy well: in a realistic and believable voice. That's how Bullyville ranks. Her main character, Bart, has a realistic voice that many readers will find is similar the THEIR thoughts. I'm only about half-way through but I can assure any reader that if you liked After, you'll likely like this.
I like book that are very down to earth. This is one of them. I loved the storyline. A boy who struggles in school whom happens to have a bully making it all worse. In a new school with no friends he has to deal with his own problems. It also has a huge twist that makes it all the more interesting. I recommend.