CAN JOHNNY AND HIS BULLYING BUDDIES WIN OUT OVER NIC NELSON AND HIS “GANG?”
From the very first chapter of Nic Nelson and the Diamonds of Denmark — in fact from the very first page — it becomes apparent that Nic’s new life in New Bonn is not going to be all fun and games. Johnny and the J Gang are on the scene from the start to ensure that Nic’s attempts at living a happy, normal, kid’s existence are foiled on a routine basis.
At first, Johnny’s bullying seems rather senseless, as does any bullying. In fact, it could almost appear to be random. One kid standing alone at a pinball machine is easy prey for a cocky youngster with a gang backing him up. But people aren’t born bullies; and although there may not always be an obvious reason why one person bullies another, there is always a catalyst that, right or wrong, sets them on this misguided path.
There is also strength in numbers, both for the antagonist and his target. Attacking someone one-on-one can leave a bully somewhat vulnerable to the backlash of the larger numbers of those who frown on bullying. However, creating a “team” can add a little measure of safety for the bully. Although Johnny has an apparent mean streak, he rarely, if ever, makes a move against Nic without his pack to back him up. Likewise, Nic has his gang that started with Kevin and grows to include Phil, Cindy, Herbert, and Dante. Throughout Nic Nelson and the Diamonds of Denmark, we see these two gangs pitted against one another, whether on sleds or a paintball field, as they battle to show which is the stronger, more strategic band of brothers.
As the story unfolds more and more, and little mysteries are solved in the telling, you eventually learn what is driving Johnny in his relentless bullying of Nic and the rest of his friends. While nothing justifies bullying, in the mind of a bully, the motive(s) he or she latches onto warrants the actions taken. And as the bullying heightens to a nearly unbearable level for Nic, Kevin, and the rest of their friends, the idea of revenge becomes a very appealing one. With the help of Mr. Chen (who we’ll highlight another time), Nic is helped to realize that retribution, not revenge, is the more successful choice to make.
Easy as it is to take an instant liking to Nic, it’s equally easy to dislike Johnny as each episode of bullying takes place. I hope that as you read Nic Nelson and the Diamonds of Denmark you’ll absorb the insights Nic gets along the way that help to clarify the best ways to understand and deal with the “Johnnys” that we all are confronted with from time to time in our lives.