Bully, by Emme Dun is an intelligent and aptly-timed legal thriller.
Based on true events, Bully kicks off during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. The discrimination and hysteria surrounding gay parents resulted in many being treated as second class citizens. By 2008, Joanna Crawford, now an elected family court judge wants to atone for her treatment of her own father, a gay man. Wendy White, a lesbian mother, and Jennifer Dolan, a widow, find themselves in Crawford’s court and their children become political pawns.
First time author, Emme Dun, has penned an important and fascinating legal thriller that will captivate readers. The excitement in Bully doesn’t build right away. It starts in the 1980s and chronicles events to the present day. The author methodically lays the foundation for the motivations of the key players in the story. This might turn off some readers who like thrillers to start with a bang and not let until the end. Readers who stick with the story are rewarded. The second half of the book is jammed packed with corruption, greed, political ambitions, personal redemption, and a murder.
For many pages the connection between the two storylines, Wendy White and Jennifer Dolan, is unclear and somewhat baffling. When Dun starts to weave them together the novel transforms into a frightening and eye-opening read. The author based her story on true events and the level of the corruption in the American legal system that’s highlighted should alarm readers. This isn’t a story solely for the LGBT community. It’s a story to edify everyone about what happens when people in power are driven by personal and political desires. It’s not a new subject in fiction and reality, but Dun presents a compelling storyline that makes a strong case.
Even though Bully highlights discrimination against LGBT individuals and families, the storyline boils down to the sacred bond of mother and child. Many readers who are also parents will be horrified with how the children in this story are callously tossed into the middle of competing factions. Their welfare doesn’t factor into political and personal decisions and wants. They are used pure and simple even if the outcome has disastrous effects against two innocent children. It also shows how loving mothers will do almost everything in their power to protect their child. It’s moving and inspirational. And hard to forget.
There are minor punctuation and grammatical errors that occasionally knock the reader out of the story, but it’s easy to quickly re-engage.
This is the type of story where the reader really cheers for the good guys to win. And the desire to see the bad guys get their comeuppance propels readers to stick with an emotionally charged and upsetting scenario. Seeking revenge isn’t necessarily good, but justice can be a beautiful thing.
Overall Bully is a compelling read and once it gets going, it’s hard to put down. This story will stick with many readers long after finishing and it will open many eyes.