Author D.K. Smith dedicates this novel to all victims of bullying for whom the day is always darkest before dawn. The narrative opens with teenagers purchasing clothing at a mall about to pay with hundred-dollar bills until they find out that those they have are counterfeit and flee from the authorities, getting into a car accident while evading the police. One of the book’s primary settings is Oak View, California, where counterfeiting money has become a problem, with students beaten up by bullies for reporting to the authorities. A chief protagonist is Margo Rios, who takes a journalism class at her high school.
The story occasionally alternates between Oak View and London, England, where a student named Ellis experiences bullying at his school that results in his getting beaten, and despite the distance between their cities, those of the students and Oak View and Ellis ultimately intertwine. Several parties occur in Oak View, with Margo also occasionally interviewing students jailed for their involvement in the counterfeiting of money, plenty other characters introduced such as Janet, who attends a school called Felton Prep, with the police ultimately involving themselves in the bullying and counterfeiting, a focus given to Detectives Bennett and Seldon, among others.
The book’s counterfeiting subplot is one of its high points, although most of the story, especially with regards to the bullying several characters encounter, could have been resolved more easily if they had just informed those in positions of authority, such as teachers and the principal, instead of attempting to be vigilantes and take matters into their own hands, culminating in the formation of a group that bears the name of the novel, Mind Over Bullies. Even so, this reviewer can somewhat sympathize with the themes of the book, having experienced bullying himself while attending grade school, with this narrative being a recommended read overall.
A 38 year old native of Los Angeles, Mr. Smith began his writing career after getting news that he would soon become an uncle. Wanting to create stories and characters for his expected niece, he created the children’s book series “Sock n Boots Adventures.” The two characters (three year old Sock and five year old Boots) began to make names for themselves, generating downloads in countries around the world.
When asked about his motivation to tackle the subject of bullying in a 108,000 word novel Smith said, “One day I came across a story in the news about a young girl that jumped in front of a subway train after weeks of bullying. As I investigated further, I was shocked at the number of similar stories I encountered. Bullycide, the news was calling it. I thought, wow, what if these young people had been shown that the pain of bullying can be handled without hurting themselves or someone else.”
Ultimately it was thoughts of his now four nieces and three nephews dealing with bullying as they get older that weighed heavily on the decision for Smith to write the story about bullying. “I recognize that the characters and situations in the book may not represent every bullying situation and that realistically the book won’t change the world, but I do sincerely hope that it sends a subtle message about there being life after bullying. We’ll just have to see how the public receives it,” Smith said.
A lover of mystery and espionage stories, Smith is a fan of everything James Bond. A favorite scenario is to see a character in an impossible situation get out of it at the last second or have the odds against them and see he or she turn the tables. Acting on the love of espionage and mystery, Smith has a new novel in the works centering on a James Bond-type character of his own creation.