The Revealers: Book Summary, Characters & Quotes

Instructor: Ivy Roberts

Ivy Roberts is an adjunct instructor in English, film/media studies and interdisciplinary studies.

This lesson introduces 'The Revealers,' Doug Wilhelm's novel about middle school bullying. We will get to know the bullies who torture the students at Parkland Middle School and the efforts of those who fight back. We'll meet the characters and explore important quotes from the novel.

Based on Real Experience

Young adult author Doug Wilhelm was overwhelmed by the positive reaction kids and teachers had to The Revealers, a novel that paints a realistic picture of bullying in middle school. The novel shows just how pervasive bullying can be, and it encourages kids that they can do something about it. It reassures readers that they're not alone.

Doug Wilhelm admits that he wrote The Revealers because of his own experience being bullied in middle school. 'I remembered being so scared to go to school in the morning, and then even more scared to come out of school at the end. I remembered the feeling in my stomach, and getting headaches every afternoon - as Russell does in The Revealers.'

In The Revealers, Wilhelm offers middle school readers a realistic story about bullying, adolescence, pride, and self-esteem.


Meet the Parkland 7th Graders

Before we get into the summary of the novel, let's meet the Parkland Middle School 7th Graders.

Russell Trainor

The novel opens with the thoughts of Russell Trainor, Doug Wilhelm's 7th grade alter-ego.

'Basically, when seventh grade started I found out I was out. It was like everyone else took a secret summer course in how to act, what to say, and what groups to be in, and I never found out about it.' He doesn't feel like he fits in. He's a really smart kid, funny, awkward and not too popular. Readers will be able to empathize with Russell's isolation. But Russell makes friends and talks about his experiences, showing that we can overcome our individual vulnerabilities by reaching out and building bonds. Through Russell, Wilhelm explores ways that he could have dealt with his bullying situation more proactively.

Elliot & Catalina

Russell makes friends with Elliot and Catalina, who it turns out are having a similar middle school experience. Elliot is 'one kid. . . it's okay for anybody, absolutely anybody, to trash.' Elliot Gekewicz and Russell have a lot in common. Elliot's been picked on a lot because, like Russell, he's kind of a dork. He's also bright, yet he's someone whom it's okay for anyone else in his school to pick on and humiliate. Elliot is a bookworm. He daydreams about dinosaurs, is easily obsessed with small details, and thinks of himself as a know-it-all.

Catalina Aarons is shy but strong and self-righteous. She's not the kind of person who easily gives up when things get hard.

The Bullies

Readers will also be able to empathize with Richie Tucker, the boy who's making all their lives difficult. Even though he's the main antagonist, he's complicated, conflicted, and complex.

Then there are the popular kids. Bethany is the coolest girl in school. She's beautiful, outspoken, charismatic, and willful. She goes out of her way to assert her power in school.


Parkland Middle School students call it Darkland because it's not a bright and happy place. The kids avoid the dark corners in corridors, empty classrooms, and bathrooms for fear of unpleasant interactions with the school's numerous bullies.

7th grader Catalina can't stand it anymore. She writes an open letter to Parkland and posts it on KidNet, a private online community. Catalina is the first to don the title 'The Revealer.'

She observes, 'It's funny, but ever since we sent out my story, people have been treating me differently. It's like they see me now. Before I was. . . invisible. I didn't mean anything to anybody.'

Then classmate Elliot responds to her post. He's also been bullied. Last week he was hung over a bridge by his ankles. He decides to join in: 'So why shouldn't we help other people broadcast what's happened to them? Maybe they won't be so scared anymore either.'

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