January 28

Book Review – Chestnuts by Gilbert Ohanian

January 28, 2015

From Goodreads.com:
Is there a bully in your life that you don’t know how to deal with? I had one too. It prompted me to write ‘Chestnuts: A True Story About Being Bullied, ‘ a book outlining practical strategies for defending against bullies and resolving the conflict and aggression that often plagues victims of bullying. Inside these pages, I will take you through my own harrowing journey with bullies – from boarding school beat-ups, to violent attacks from crazed skinheads on the streets of London, to bullies in public school in America. In each chapter a reflection of my personal story will show you what I did wrong, and how you can actually defend yourself in this modern day and age. Find out: * How bullying is perceived by bullies, victims, parents and teachers * What goes on in the mind of a bully, and what you can do about it * How authority figures often make bullying even worse * The steps you can take to defend yourself, find help and heal from the trauma In ‘Chestnuts: A True Story About Being Bullied, ‘ you will find out how to deal with psychological, emotional and physical bullying – and even what to do when one of your teachers is being a bully. Get this book now, and empower yourself to stand against the tyranny that oppresses you! 

 I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

When I received a request to review Chestnuts: A True Story About Being Bullied, I was intrigued. I work with special education children everyday, and bullying is not an unfamiliar situation, even in an elementary school (and it impacts all children, not just special education children). There are so many opinions out there on how to handle bullying, and I do not always agree with the advice I hear. People often mean well, but bullies do not respond in ways that most other people would so those well-meaning people often have strategies that can exacerbate the bullying. I am always open to hearing how others recommend handling bullying. Here are my thoughts on Chestnuts:


  • Ohanian makes himself vulnerable and shares some stories from his childhood that had to have been difficult to relive. However, by doing so, he will help others to deal with bullying.
  • Ohanian has clearly done extensive research on the issue of bullying and sites numerous sources to validate the information and strategies he provides.
  • Bullying is clearly defined. This is one of my pet peeves…..the word bullying is tossed around very loosely in certain environments when it is not true bullying that is occurring. Bullying is a chronic, repetitive problem, not one instance of name calling.
  • Numerous suggestions are provided to help cope with bullies, whether it is you, a family member, a friend, or a student who is being bullied. Ohanian also includes strategies to avoid – strategies that can exacerbate the situation.
  • Ohanian places a huge emphasis on remaining true to yourself, and finding friends within your circle of interest who support you. I couldn’t agree more with this. When you have a source of support, even if it is small, it helps strengthen you when dealing with a bully. Keep seeking out people until you find people you can connect with!
  • There is also a large emphasis on sticking up for people who are being bullied. Although this is a tough thing for many kids to do, it can be powerful in combatting a bully when more and more people unite in defending someone.


  • The organization didn’t quite flow for me. I think the book would have been a little more effective if Ohanian had shared his story all at once instead of sharing bits and pieces at the beginning of each chapter (even though I read this book within a couple days, I lost track of certain parts of his story).
  • Separate chapters geared towards different groups impacted by bullying (parents, teachers, friends, individuals) would have also helped the organization. Ohanian kept interchanging his target audience, and each population will have to go through and weed out the information that pertains to them.
  • I didn’t agree with all of the strategies that Ohanian suggested, but I think he provides a great deal of information and food for thought to help you determine what would work best in your situation.

Overall, I think this is a good resource if you know of someone who is dealing with bullying in some capacity. You will need to contemplate the different strategies provided and evaluate what will work best in your situation. Always remember to seek help from someone if you are dealing with a bully!

What resources do you recommend for bullying? Are there any other memoirs that you have read that could help someone deal with his/her own bullying?

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Posted January 28, 2015 by Lisa @ Reading, Writing, and Random Musings in category "book review

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