By: Rod Cornelius
A few days ago, I had the pleasure of reading this book entitled “Ugly.” I did not know what to expect when I placed this book on my Kindle bookshelf. I didn’t even look at the synopsis to see what the book was about. I was interested in reading this book strictly based on the title. I had never read anything by this author before, but this book was automatically recommended to me by Kindle based on previous books I had read. Just on the title alone, I had gathered that the book must have been about a person who had a life of misfortune, and therefore their life was referred to as “an ugly life.” Boy was I in for a rude awakening! From the very first few lines of the book, I knew that “ugly” meant physically ugly.
Just those few lines captured my attention right away. As I proceeded to read on to find out what the book was all about, I found myself feeling bad for the main character Julius. From my own personal experience, I could relate to how he was feeling and the things he was going through. It is tough enough being a teenager, but to be the object of other children’s cruelty and bullying makes things even worse. I myself was also bullied and picked on in school, so I know how it feels not to fit in. I was picked on for the simple fact that I had a visual impairment. When children see that someone is different from them, they automatically label them a target of ridicule. Julius was bullied because he wasn’t “attractive”, and I was bullied because I couldn’t see well.
As the story progressed, Julius did find him some alliances in some unlikely sources. He met a girl that he liked, and she wanted to be around him no matter what everyone else thought of him. Because of how he had been treated his entire life, Julius had very low self-esteem in himself. He couldn’t understand why the girl wanted to be with him when there were more attractive boys she could hang out with. Julius also found alliance in a misfit kid named Travis. He was known to be a troublemaker, but he be-friended Julius despite what other people thought. The two boys didn’t make a likely pair, but their friendship helped Julius gain a little confidence in himself.
Julius had a talent for drawing and his teacher tried to push him to pursue his talent, but hanging out with Travis and getting into fights with his bullies kept Julius occupied. The fact that Julius wasn’t even accepted by his own family, made the situation even worse. I found myself crying at times when I read some of the cruel and demeaning things his family members said to him right in his face. Julius’s only ray of light in his life was his mother. Even though Julius was the product of a rape, she still loved him unconditionally. People thought she should’ve aborted him, but she carried him and loved him despite it all.
The author did a great job of portraying the life of a situation that a lot of teenagers find themselves in. Bullying is a past, present, and future problem if somehow someone doesn’t get a handle on it. Unfortunately Julius couldn’t take the torment any more, and he committed suicide, but if one person could’ve stepped in and did something about the bullying, maybe Julius wouldn’t have taken that route. Bullying is a serious offense, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Thousands of children are being bullied each year, and some of them take matters into their own hands. In some cases it’s suicide, and in other cases it’s murder. Things should never get to that point that someone has to lose their life.
Thankfully things didn’t end that way for me. I was able to get a handle on my own bullying situation, but not everyone is so lucky. I definitely give this book a five star rating and recommend it to anyone who has dealt with bullying. Most victims suffer in silence. They are too afraid to speak up against their tormentors for fear of backlash, but if they can’t speak up for themselves, then someone should have the heart to do it for them. I loved the gems of motivation and inspiration that the author sprinkled throughout the book. He used the character Mr. Base as a voice of reason for Julius. A lot of the quotes and advice he gave to Julius could definitely help anybody who needs a bit of strength to get them through a tough situation.
Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Mr. Graves, never let how other folk think you look determine who you are. Life is bigger than someone else’s opinion. You have to find what matters most to you in this world, and you have to make it mean something to you, son. Life aint fair, but this is your moment in time. Don’t let someone else cheat you from it. Because if you allow life to do it, it will swallow you up. A strong mind will always persevere. You remember that.”
This quote has so much meaning. It is something that we all need to remember. How you look physically shouldn’t determine who you are as a person. Even though television, media, movies, and magazines focus on outer beauty, the beauty inside you is what should matter the most. Some of the most beautiful people have the ugliest personalities, and that makes their outer appearance less attractive in my eyes. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I see the beauty inside people. The inner beauty.