Young adult novel "The Bully" tells the story of Philadelphia ninth-grader Darrell Mercer, whose mother disrupts his life when she accepts a promising new job in California, necessitating an abrupt, mid-year move across the country. Darrell, slight in stature and skinnier than average, is immediate prey for his new school's fearsome freshman class bully, Tyray Hobbs. Defenseless and intimidated, Darrell gives in to Tyray's demand for a regularly scheduled "protection payment," forking over $10 every Friday.
Darrell's resentment builds with every "installment," but it takes a burgeoning flirtation with classmate Amberlynn for him to see the situation from another perspective and truly grasp the degree to which he sacrificed his own self-respect.
Newfound motivation to make a change leads Darrell to wrestling team tryouts and then a spot on the team. Soon, he's making new friends, winning matches, and honing his skills with drive and determination. His increasing confidence even gives him the courage to ask Amberlynn to the approaching Christmas dance. The future seems bright. At the dance, however, a confrontation with Tyray results in a humiliating defeat and embarrassed retreat for Darrell.
Over Christmas break, Darrell rededicates himself to refining his wrestling prowess and perfecting his technique. On New Year's Day, he resolves to never again back down from bullying, no matter what the circumstances.
Back at school, Darrell's failure to pay leads Tyray to track him down during lunch period and corner him in the cafeteria. A fight flares up and fists fly, but Tyray is taken aback as Darrell quickly gains the upper hand. After Darrell wins the fight, Tyray is downright stunned to be left with a broken wrist, a damaged reputation and a suspension from school.