Today I’ll be reviewing How Bruce Springsteen’s Music Saved My Life (The Story of a Bullied Boy) a short autobiographical story by Oskari Olli, now be warned this book touches on some heavy issues, about bullying, and how it can lead down some dark roads so if that doesn’t sound good then maybe this book isn’t for you, but I do implore you to give it a chance even if the subject matter might make you uncomfortable because I feel that it’s worth the read.
Now as I touched on up top, this self published story, is about the author, Oskari Olli and it’s about the bullying he’s suffered throughout the years, anyone knows how cruel kids can be, but especially when you’re at a stage of life yourself where you are still forming as a person, and absorbing things around you, being constantly demeaned and hurt, you are in danger of internalising what’s said about you and it damages you for years to come. I was bulled as well for years and it really damaged my self image, to the point even years later and far removed from my bullies I still struggle with confidence issues because I did end up taking what they said to heart. Oskari really recognises that aspect of bullying, and how the impact, so many people worry about the immediate impact it has, the bruises and the tears but he honesty sees and talks about how much of an impact bullying can have long term.
Something I’ve noticed is that trauma, especially early on does one of two things typically, it either hardens you and invariably you end up becoming exactly the type of person who bullies or you allow it to make you empathetic to other people, you can laugh at your pain because it’s the only thing you can do to it where you don’t let it win, you don’t let it define you. Oskari does the latter really well, he manages to blend his message and his story with tasteful and occasional use of humour.
At this point we are all familiar with bullying and your heart goes out to the person and his loved ones every time you hear about cases of people being bullied, especially when it drives the person to take their life but I think adults can see things through a lens, they don’t remember how it was, and our parents and grandparents come from a different generation where people, and boys especially aren’t supposed to look weak, so they really can’t understand how people can be driven to do something as extreme as commit suicide or, as the book suggests turn their anger and pain outward in an act like a school shooting. I think that people are aware of bullying, but they aren’t aware of how easy it is to become overwhelmed by it, and so books like this really shine a light on the issues involved.
Now this book name drops the awesomely talented Bruce Springsteen, but he’s not the primary focus of the book, but rather Oskari talks about his music and how it supported him on his road to recovery. So don’t be put off if for whatever reason you’re not a fan of Springsteen because the book isn’t all about him, and if anything you’ll go away with a greater appreciation of him as an artist, or at least of the power of music in general to heal and help a person grow.
I admire Oskari for talking about this, because while it’s deeply personal and won’t be relevant to some, their are those with whom the experience will resonate greatly, and one of the hardest things about being bullied isn’t the harsh words or the threat of physical violence but instead it’s how isolated you can feel, and books like this let you know that you aren’t alone, other people have experienced the same type of things and they are still going strong, and not only that but are making something of themselves.
I’ve covered what the book is about at a reasonable length and it’s a really powerful story, and while it’s not without its flaws they are fairly minor, and most likely come just from the fact that by his own admission Oskari is not a writer, but it’s a strong piece of work that you have to appreciate, and it isn’t afraid to ask questions and expect better from people and society at large, so with all that in mind I give the book a well earned 4/5. If you would like to grab a copy for yourself then head on over to Amazon.
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