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Bullying Is So Not Okay

One out of every four students is bullied, and 85% of these situations never receive intervention.* Bestselling author Nancy Rue recently released the tween novel So Not Okay: An Honest Look at Bullying from the Bystander, the first book in the Mean Girl Trilogy, to address bullying from the perspective of the bystander. So Not Okay teaches invaluable lessons about self-worth and the beauty of true friendship. Nancy Rue is now asking kids, parents and teachers to take a stand against bullying and join the #SoNotOkay movement!

“This movement is about solving the problem of bullying from the inside out,” Nancy said, “and that’s going to take all of us coming together!”

So Not Okay is an anti-bullying movement for tween girls – and their parents and educators – based on the principles that Jesus teaches in the Gospels for how to treat other people. The characters in the Mean Girl Makeover trilogy find the power to carry out those principles, and so can YOU.

Sign up for the author chat with Nancy Rue this Thursday at 2 pm EST and visit to join the So Not Okay movement! Learn more during our author chat about how you can encourage tween girls to get involved, such as:

  • Use the #SoNotOkay hashtag to promote their stance against mean girls
  • Post one of the So Not Okay memes on Instagram or a selfie of them holding their pledge card
  • Sign one of the So Not Okay commitment cards with friends or your youth group
  • Print and sign the Code for Respecting the Dignity of Every Human Being, just like the girls in the book
  • Download the So Not Okay phone screen wallpapers & share them with their friends

Each book in Nancy Rue’s Mean Girl Makeover trilogy focuses on a different character’s point of view: the bully, the victim, and the bystander. Each girl has a different personality so that every reader can find a character with whom she relates. The books, based on Scripture, show solid biblical solutions to the bullying problem set in a story for kids. Below is an exclusive excerpt from the first book in the trilogy, So Not Okay by Nancy Rue, copyright Thomas Nelson, 2014. So Not Okay tells the story of Tori Taylor, a quiet sixth grader at Gold Country Middle School in Grass Valley, California. Tori knows to stay out of the way of Kylie, the queen bee of GCMS. When an awkward new student named Ginger becomes Kylie’s new target, Tori whispers a prayer of thanks that it’s not her. But as Kylie’s bullying of Ginger continues to build, Tori feels guilty and tries to be kind to Ginger. Pretty soon, the bullying line of fire directed toward Ginger starts deflecting onto Tori, who must decide if she and her friends can befriend Ginger and withstand Kylie’s taunts, or do nothing and resume their status quo. Tori’s decision dramatically changes her trajectory for the rest of the school year.

* * *

Mr. V was the cool teacher. We all called him Mr. V because no one else could pronounce his last name.

Vasiliev. I never saw what was so hard about it. It was Vas – rhymed with mass – and il – like when you’re sick, you know, ill – then eee – rhymed with bee – and ev – like in whatev. Vas-ill-ee-ev.

I would’ve called him that because I thought he’d be impressed, but I knew for a fact that would set the BBAs [That was our name for the group of boys in our section who spent most of their time Burping, Belching, and making disgusting noises with their Armpits.] off. Within seconds, they’d be burping it – Vas-ill-ee-ev – and that was just wrong.

Mr. V caught the soccer ball some people were throwing around and tossed it between his hands as he perched on his high stool. He didn’t demand absolute silence like Mrs. Fickus, but most people paid attention to Mr. V just because. I was one of those.

He smiled a lot, but his grin never looked the same twice. I guess that was because (A) his mouth was sort of like elastic and (B) he didn’t try to keep it under control like most teachers did.

“Don’t you think Mr. V’s hot?” I’d heard Kylie ask her Pack at least fifty-one times.

I wasn’t even sure a teacher could be hot, but I didn’t bother telling her that.

“Hold your applause when I announce this,” Mr. V said now. “It’s time for another small-group project.”

The BBAs whistled and clapped, and not because they loved doing small group projects. Just because Mr. V said not to.

“Yay!” Ophelia said to me. “I love these!”

“We’re gonna be a group, right?” Winnie said. Winnie needed a lot of us telling her everything was okay these days. Probably because everything was not okay at Grandma’s house.

“Are you serious? Of course we are!” Ophelia said with exclamation points. The three of us were always a group – plus one.

I couldn’t wait to see what the assignment was. Science was my absolute favorite subject, because (A) everything had a reason and (B) I could always figure out what it was and (C) it was 100 percent logical, so you never really had to argue about the results. No shrugging needed.

Last time Mr. V said, “Choose a body system and find out everything you can about it.” So our group picked the nervous system because it’s the most complicated. Of course the BBAs chose the excretory system so they could talk about poop. The Pack took the skin, and all they talked about in their presentation was zits and how to prevent them. (Like any of them had ever had or would ever have a zit in their lives. Probably another one of those requirements for being in the Pack.)

“I think this calls for a drumroll,” Mr. V said now.

We turned our index fingers into drumsticks and hammered on our desks. Back in BBA world, it sounded like a rock band going out of control.

Mr. V put his hand up, and it mostly stopped. I leaned forward in my desk, actually holding my breath.

Wait for it…

“This is a little different from your other projects.”

I could do different.

“I want your group to ask a question about…”

He hopped off the stool, dropped the soccer ball on his desk, and went to the dry-erase board. He was killin’ me.

He wrote with a thick orange marker, and the class read the words as they took shape.

“The… human… being… dot-dot (they actually said dot-dot instead of colon): mind… or… body.”

The class was totally silent for the first time since… well, never.

“Your question has to be something you don’t already know the answer to,” Mr. V said. “Your assignment is to discover that answer and present it to the class.”

He rolled the marker between his palms and grinned at us. Personally, I didn’t know what he was smiling about. That had to be the worst assignment ever.

Heidi raised her hand. She was looking at Kylie, who was mouthing words to her.

“What is she, a ventriloquist?” Ophelia whispered to me.

“Heidi!” Mr. V said. He always smiled biggest when somebody asked a question.

“This is probably a lame question – ”

Douglas snorted. “Probably.”

“Shut up!” Heidi said to him. Which, from what I’d observed before, meant “I love that you noticed me.”


“The term ‘lame question’ is an oxymoron,” Mr. V said.

Heidi looked at him with nothing on her face for a second and then tossed her hair back. “Okay, whatever. We don’t get it.”

“I get it!” Ginger waved her entire arm like we did in kindergarten when we all wanted to be the first one to recite the alphabet.

Patrick held his nose. Mr. V just smiled at her.

“Tell us what you get, Ginger.”

“Well,” she said in her usual megaphone voice, “you want us to explore and think and not just regurg . . . reglug . . . I forget the word, but you don’t want us to just find out facts and vomit them out.”

“Gro-oss!” Kylie said. She turned to the Pack with her hands spread out like, “Did she seriously say that in front of me?”

Regurgitate is the word you’re looking for,” Mr. V said, his eyes doing some kind of fun dance. “And you are exactly right, Ginger. This not a report.” He looked at the whole class. “This is a study, and I want you to do it on something you really want to know more about.”

“What if we already know everything we wanna know about the human body?” Douglas said. The look he gave Patrick and Andrew was a big clue that he was thinking something disgusting.

“Then ask something about the mind,” Mr. V said.


Mr. V let one side of his mouth go up. “Don’t you want to know how girls think?”

Douglas’s face lit up. “Hey, can that be our question?”

“You’ll have to refine it some but, yeah, you can go with that.”

Kylie raised one finger. Picking up her whole arm was obviously too much trouble.


“What should our group do?”

“Your group should figure out something awesome.”

“Not fair!” Shelby said.

But the Pack shut her up with a unanimous stare. She let her hair-almost-like Kylie’s cover her face as she looked down. Her part even turned red. I would have sat there analyzing how hard it must be to learn and follow all the Pack rules, but I was too jumbled up by Mr. V’s assignment. I studied stuff and figured it out all the time – but not for a grade.

“Okay, form your groups and start brainstorming,” Mr. V said.

“What if we already got our question?” Patrick said without raising his hand at all.

“I’ll be around to approve your question and give you the sheet on how to do your proposal.”

“What proposal?” Ginger said, waving half of her body.

Mr. V smiled at her exactly the way he did at Kylie and Heidi and probably his own mom. How did he do that?

“Form your question first. Then I’ll explain. But don’t drag your feet, guys. The proposal’s due by February 17.”

Ophelia and Winnie turned their desks toward mine, leaving a space in our circle for Mitch. She was the plus one. She had joined us on the very first assignment after she walked around the room checking out all the groups.

“I’m working with you guys,” she told us back then. “You don’t mess around like everybody else.”

We let her be in our group because (A) it never occurred to us to say no to Mitch and (B) she always did her share of the work. In every other group, there was at least one kid who just sat around doing nothing and still got credit for the project. Not in ours.

“We doing this like we always do?” Mitch said.

We all nodded. Our group had a good system. Mitch and I came up with the topic, and then we all did the research, except not so much Ophelia. She went off on too many what my dad called “bunny trails.”

Winnie mostly wrote up our report, with some help from Ophelia, but Phee’s big part was coming up with a very cool way to present it to the class. She knew not to give me an acting part. Like when we talked for the various parts of the brain, I just held the signs up over their heads. Everybody else was really good at that, even Mitch, which you wouldn’t expect because she didn’t say that much the rest of the time. She was scary quiet, until you got to know her some. Still, I was always careful not to argue with her.

“So what question are we gonna ask?” Ophelia said, looking at me.

Mitch said something, but whatever it was got drowned out by Ginger’s voice.

“There would be room if you moved your stuff.”

Everybody stopped what they were doing and stared. Ginger was standing just outside the Pack circle, pointing to the chair where someone had dropped a pink-sparkled backpack.

Who knew which one of the wolves it belonged to, since they all had matching ones. It was still sliding down in the chair, like somebody had just dropped it there.

“Mr. Vacillate said we could have six in a group and you only have five.”

“Mr. Who?” Kylie said, not to Ginger but to Riannon.

A laugh came out of Heidi’s nose. Let the howling begin. I looked at Mr. V, but he was sitting with the BBAs, explaining with his hands.

“I need a group,” Ginger said.

“Then go find one,” Riannon said.

Kylie turned her head so that a panel of dark hair fell across her face as she got her glossy lips close to Riannon. “She’s big enough. She could be a group all by herself.”

Riannon threw her head back and let her shrill laugh rip.

“Why are you being so mean to me?” Ginger said.

“Because you won’t leave us alone unless we, like, spell it out for you,” Kylie said.

She nodded to Shelby, who looked at her with her plumped-up lips hanging open for a second before she said to Ginger, “We. Do. Not. Want. You. In. Our. Group.”

“That new girl needs to get a thicker skin,” Mitch said to our group. “Mr. V sure isn’t gonna rescue her.”

I was suddenly bristly. It’s not his fault! I wanted to say to her. He doesn’t even know what’s going on because the BBAs are taking up all his time. If he knew, he’d stop it.

But like I said, I didn’t argue with Mitch.

A few rows over, Evelyn was waving both of her arms. “Mr. Vee-ee, Brittney and I need help!”

“Just keep throwing out ideas,” Mr. V said. “You’re not going to come up with something right away. This is a higher level of thinking – ”

“We have ours, Mr. V,” Izzy said.

Kylie smiled, something she almost never did except at boys and teachers, and displayed the Crater Lake dimples. “Come see us, Mr. V.”

Evelyn seemed like she wanted to point out that she and Brittney had asked first, but she deflated like a party balloon. Was it just me or was the Pack getting control over everybody?

“Ginger’s about to cry,” Winnie said.

Mitch didn’t even give Ginger a glance. “Yeah, well, like I said, she needs to – ”

“Anybody have any ideas?” I said.

Ophelia chewed on her left thumbnail. “I don’t think I can do ‘higher level of thinking.’”

I wasn’t sure I could either. My grades and test scores proved I was smart, but this might be a level I couldn’t reach. What if I couldn’t do this? Now that was weird. Since when did I doubt that I could do just about anything?

*Bullying statistic from the Ambassadors 4 Kids (A4K) Club.

* * *

Your Turn

Does Ginger’s story bring back terrible memories for you? Or are you watching this happen with your kids, nieces, nephews, grandkids or kids you coach? Join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear from you… because bullying is so not ok!