Archives

Review – The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

 

The Problem With Forever

By Jennifer L. Armentrout

SummaryHeartbreakingly real…a remarkable novel about the power of first love and the courage it takes to face your fears.” —Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling author

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes a riveting story about friendship, survival and finding your voice.

Growing up, Mallory Dodge learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime. Now, after years of homeschooling, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at a public high school. But she never imagined she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet soon it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory must make a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants and the truths that need to be heard.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy.

Add to Goodreads

Review:

The Problem with Forever was another gem from Jennifer L. Armentrout! I typically love most of her books with the exception of a few, so I grabbed this when it went on sale on Amazon. I picked it up when I was in the mood for a nice contemporary romance with a little bit of grit and it did not disappoint.

The book was similar to the Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry as far as dealing with damaged youth, broken homes, and characters a little more rough around the edges. Like McGarry, Armentrout handled it well, made the characters believable, and did not rely on tropes and stereotypes to get her points across. I really felt like I knew Mallory and Rider and that they were realistic characters. It also felt original, despite McGarry having a few stories in her series involving the same kind of characters. This story felt similar in theme, but I didn’t feel like I was reading something that had “been done before” or anything. 

I loved seeing Mallory grow as a character from the meek Mouse stuck in the past to someone who could argue an entire paragraph when she felt confident or passionate enough. I loved that the love interest, while still maintaining the whole tough and brooding persona was genuinely caring. I sometimes think we don’t see the softer side of guys in YA romance without losing the whole alpha male protector aspect. Armentrout gave us a character who was both in a way that really worked. 

I flew through the book in just a matter of hours over a snowy Saturday! I highly recommend it. I don’t know that I’ve read any similar books by the same author. She writes YA and paranormal/fantasy romance under Jennifer, but also New Adult contemporary romance under J. Lynn. This book, while contemporary, felt completely different from her J. Lynn books. I don’t know how she does it, but she keeps pumping out some quality stuff!

Star 4

Review – What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

What I Thought Was True

By Huntley Fitzpatrick

SummaryFrom the acclaimed author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say good-bye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen’s dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-you-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.

Source: I received a paperback in a Yureka Book box

Add to Goodreads

Review:

I never reviewed this book when I read it last year, so this review is based on memory and I’m not writing it immediately after finishing the book like I normally do. 

 What I Thought Was True was a contemporary romance set in New England on an island where class and income level separate people. Gwen wasn’t wealthy and took on various jobs over the summer. Cassidy, a rich guy she knew, seemed to be taking on odd jobs on the island, too, and their paths kept crossing.

It was your typically rich guy and poor girl contemporary romance, but I really enjoyed it. I loved the push and pull and I liked getting to know Gwen. She was a character that I remember, even though it’s been months since I read the book. She was strong and sassy. She cared about her family. She protected those she loved. And I really liked Cassidy, the uber rich boy who maybe wasn’t as stuck up as she thought, who wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, and didn’t care if she was from the “other side of the tracks’ or anything.

This was a warm and fuzzy contemporary romance I recommend. 

Star 4

Review – Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot

 

Sad Perfect

By Stephanie Elliot

Summary: For sixteen-year-old Pea, eating has always been difficult. Some people might call her a picky eater, but she knows it’s more than that, and it’s getting worse. And now there’s a monster raging inside of her, one that controls more than just her eating disorder. The monster is growing, and causing anxiety, depression, and dangerous thoughts. When Pea meets Ben and they fall crazy-mad in love, she tries to keep the monster hidden. But the monster wants out, and as much as she tries, she can’t pretend that the bad in her doesn’t exist. Unable to control herself, a chain of events thrusts Pea into a situation she never imagined she’d find herself in. With the help of Ben, her family, and her best friend, Pea must find the inner strength to understand that her eating disorder doesn’t have to control her.

Source: I received a hardcover in exchange for an honest review as part of a blog tour.

Add to Goodreads

Review:

Sad Perfect was spectacular, emotional, and completely addicting. 

I sat down to read it one evening, fretting a little about the deadline because the book came later than expected due to some snow in my area and I don’t like deadlines. However, I didn’t need to worry because I devoured the whole thing in one sitting. I didn’t even have time to grab a bookmark. Everything I needed to do I was going to do “after this chapter” and I just kept going until the book was over. It was that engrossing.

My favorite thing about the book was that it was a contemporary romance and a contemporary “issue” novel at the same time without being too much of either one. It was perfectly balanced. It was hard hitting in terms of the issue it dealt with, but it wasn’t a dark and torture-filled novel that makes you want to either crawl into ball of negativity or roll your eyes at the dramatics. And it was definitely a romance between Pea and Ben, full of the sweet moments I love in a good YA contemporary romance, but it wasn’t just a fluffy and cute contemporary romance, either. I loved the balance and how the book wasn’t inherently dark or, the opposite: light with the main issue totally glossed over. Ben didn’t waltz in and save her from her demons magically, but he wasn’t a dark and negative influence either, and I feel like either situation could’ve happened in an “issue” book. Sad Perfect was balanced in a great way, as the title kind of makes it seem.

The book was written in second person, which could be off putting to some but I think it worked very well. Second person is not a popular POV, nor one that you’d typically expect. It made me a bit apprehensive at first, but I think it only took a couple of paragraphs to get into the groove. I think second person narration works when it’s executed well and the author certainly did a wonderful job. The POV sucked me in and might even have had something to do with how compelling the story ended up being in the end. In some ways, it was even more engrossing than first person POV. The book was tough to put down: so tough that I didn’t even actually successfully put it down. I tried once to go do the dishes and then decided I could just read another chapter and we all know how that went… I read all of the chapters!

I highly recommend Sad Perfect

For contemporary romance fans, it’s satisfying and full of those amazing moments and interactions between two people who are so connected and in sync with one another. 

For fans of books dealing with major disorders or teen struggles, the book does a great job of taking you through what it’s like to deal with a disorder. 

It was educational. I didn’t know that there was an eating disorder that wasn’t somehow connected to body image. I also admit that I totally judge people for being picky eaters and I got schooled about a real problem I never knew about. I’d heard of people not liking textures, especially in the autism spectrum, but this disorder, ARFID, was something I’d never heard of. I felt that it was introduced and described in a way that was easy to understand and I felt like I was getting a firsthand account of what it was like to live with it through Pea. 

On top of the actual disorder, Pea also dealt with a couple other issues, some related to the disorder and some just a part of being a normal teen. Because of her weird eating habits, the family dynamics were also impacted. I enjoyed exploring all of that through the book. Even if you aren’t struggling with anything in particular or looking for a book to explore a specific topic, it was also a book about a teenager dealing with parents and siblings, rumors, social media, friends, and new love. 

Sad Perfect is the kind of YA contemporary that works for everyone, no matter what aspect of contemporary novels draw you in. 

I cannot gush enough about how much I enjoyed Sad Perfect. I sat down and opened the book just expecting to get a feel for what the book would be like and figure out if I could meet my reading deadline and if it was something I’d like and.. next thing I knew I was finished reading and totally amazed. I love when a book makes me lose myself a little bit and get sucked into the pages. 

I feel lucky and honored to have gotten an early copy (in hardcover, even!) because I would’ve bought the book (it was on my radar already) and then probably let it sit for ages because that’s who I am as a person these days with a never ending TBR. The blog tour forced me to pick it up the day it arrived in the mail and I loved it. I needed a book to sweep me out of my life for a few hours. It came at the perfect time and it was so good. Buy this book! Do not let it sit on your bookshelf. It’s a quick and engrossing book that you won’t regret picking up.

 

Star 5 

———————-

 

About Stephanie Elliot

A Florida native, Stephanie has lived near Chicago and Philadelphia and currently calls Scottsdale, Arizona home. She graduated from Northern Illinois University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. Stephanie and her husband Scott have three children: AJ, McKaelen and Luke. They are all her favorites.

A Note From the Author

I wrote SAD PERFECT when my daughter was going through a 20-week intensive outpatient therapy program for her eating disorder ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. This disorder greatly affected every member in our family and caused my daughter to have extreme anxiety and depression. It is our hope that if you are struggling with an eating disorder, anxiety, or depression, that you know you are not alone, that there is help out there, that all you need to do is ask. We have set up a website for those who think they might have ARFID, and my daughter has a YouTube channel where she talks openly about her experience. While SAD PERFECT is fiction, all of the ARFID pieces in the novel are true. Please visit my website, stephanieelliot.com or stephanieelliot.wixsite.com/ARFID for more information on ARFID. Thank you, and be well.


Review – Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

 

Dumplin’

By Julie Murphy

SummarySelf-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Source: I received this book in the September 2015 Owlcrate

Add to Goodreads

Review:

This book has sat on my shelf for a year and a half. I participated in the Owlcrate-athon last month and one of the mini challenges was to read the Owlcrate book you’ve had on your shelf the longest. I received Dumplin in my very first Owlcrate and it has sat on my shelf ever since.

Let me start by saying that I think there should be way more body positivity in literature. I think it’s important for readers to connect with characters and that means there should be a variety of main characters and I support diversity in all aspects. I cannot emphasize that enough. With that being said, the few books that have been hyped as having a “fat” heroine have not worked for me. I feel like a lot of times when I’m reading, I have no idea whether the main character in a story is fat or skinny in most books. Seriously. And I think maybe it’s assumed that they are skinny if the author doesn’t specifically mention they are fat. But I read a lot of books and many of them have main characters who are not confident in their own skin and I think any person who feels like that can identify no matter what the specific issue is and I like that about books. When I read books with specific fat girls who are supposed to be a breath of fresh air in a world of skinny literature, I typically pick up a book riddled with the opposite of body positivity. It’s more about their looks than it is about anything else and I just don’t get it. If there ARE going to be books about growing some confidence, I certainly hope they take a specific issue and make it positive instead of being more awful than the stereotype they are trying to fight against.

So I went into Dumplin with a ton of reservations and wariness.

I’m on the fence about whether I liked it. I don’t feel like Dumplin was all that amazing in terms of making readers feel confident or promoting body positivity in general. I felt like everything came down to weight and the confident heroine wasn’t at all confident. I honestly think I would’ve rather read the same book from Millie’s point of view because she didn’t seem to be as negative or judgmental about the way other people looked. Willowdean was just as bad as the rest of society because she judged people all of the time for everything. It was almost as if she felt that, as a fat person, she had the upper hand and could look down on the rest of the world AND also judge her fellow ugly people because she was one of them. It was kind of awful. I think her feelings about herself could have been conveyed in a way that didn’t put other people down. We all feel self conscious, that doesn’t give us a right to judge other people more harshly in return.

At the same time, I think it’s unrealistic to expect a contemporary book about the issue of weight to ignore the fact that teenagers are awful and judgmental. Of course, as a teen girl, Will was going to be hyper aware of looks and social status and judge people. It’s what teen girls and boys do. And of course, while being judgmental, she would simultaneously be insecure while projecting false confidence. That is also what teenagers do. So I applaud the book for not trying to be some rainbow and fairy dust covered contemporary that makes us all better. Also, I think it did hit the point that we are our own worst critics and whatever we are worried about, we judge and notice in others as well. I know that as an awkward person, sometimes I get snotty about people who seem really comfortable in a new place and I realize that it’s not fair to the person I’m judging or to myself to do that. So Will’s awfulness has a point and it certainly does add to story, even if having that takes away from the whole positive message.

I can’t help but be torn. I liked the book and I felt like it did a good job of being realistic while attempting to be about learning to be comfortable in your own skin. By the end of the book, Will was better. She learned her lesson, stopped being so concerned about looks and how other people looked/were in comparison and I think that’s the point. It’s just that we had to watch Willowdean learn that lesson and she was quite awful about it. I’m just not sure if it helps or hurts the issue. 

Star 3

 

Review – Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

 

Thirteen Reasons Why

By Jay Asher

SummaryClay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

Source: I purchased a paperback

Add to Goodreads

Review:

I’ve had the book on my shelf for quite some time and it’s been on radar. At the same time, it’s been a book I’ve kind of been avoiding because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to like it. And while it was good, my instincts were right… I didn’t really like the book and I’ll explain why. I think it honestly depends on who you are and what you want a story to do.

On one hand, Thirteen Reasons Why is a must read and a fantastic read. I would 100% recommend it for teens and teachers and parents and anyone else who works closely with teens. It will no doubt open your eyes to the events that happen in a teen girl’s life and how those things can ruin someone’s life, whether actually or at least ruin their high school years.

On the other hand, I cannot seem to understand Hannah and her decision and the whole thing is incredibly frustrating. The book is certainly full of relevant information that hits hard and should be out there. We should be mindful of others and what small actions can do to other people and that’s the basic message of the book and I AGREE with that. It’s got a lot to do with women and how we are treated as objects and what that does to a girl. But to have Hannah’s character go forward with killing herself is so over the top to me and, even if it is realistic, it’s something that bothers me, that frustrates me, and is not the kind of message I think is necessary to get the other messages across so it’s just aggravating to me. Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not saying that Hannah didn’t have a “good enough” reason to kill herself, since reasons are subjective and suicide victims aren’t always in their right minds so I’m not trying to judge and say she’s dumb or she’s being extreme. It’s just that.. what she went through is something I think most girls can either understand or have gone through themselves and it doesn’t help those girls to get this message only to have a character commit suicide instead of standing up to it. I wanted to root for the Hannah in the tapes, the Hannah that’s letting people know they screwed up in some way, and that fierce Hannah doesn’t mesh with the suicidal Hannah in my brain. The tapes alone are proof that Hannah had a message she wanted to get across, so we know she has guts, so it just doesn’t work for me to have her be a victim of suicide after all of that. It’s just so.. out of character for Tape Hannah.

My thoughts on the book are all over the place and I think it’s solely based on the fact that Hannah committed suicide. I thought in the beginning I would get a glimpse into her life and come to understand why she made her decision. I just didn’t get that from the book. Instead of being a book about suicide awareness, it was a book about the treatment of girls. Which is fine, I’m on board with the message, it’s just that it didn’t go together with the suicide message in my opinion. I have never struggled with depression or feelings of suicide, so it’s hard for me to really evaluate if something is believable in that area. I know that Hannah’s outcome, given the same events, would not be my own and my own feelings towards that are definitely going to skew my acceptance of the outcome. The book would have to do a better or more thorough job of getting me on board with Hannah’s decision and it didn’t do that.

If I’m reviewing the book without the fact that Hannah committed suicide, I loved it. Girls in high school face some pretty awful things. We want good grades, we want to be liked, we want friends, we want to succeed, and a lot of us wanted attention. Teen girls can be boy crazy and might get themselves into more than they anticipated. As Hannah discovered, her forwardness about going out and meeting a boy was with the sole intention of having her first kiss and nothing more, but was very easily misinterpreted and snowballed into a reputation issue. Can you even win in high school? Girls are treated as objects and guys treat them as objects without even realizing it sometimes. Words like prude, cold, slut, whore, easy, etc are thrown around based on the tiniest of rumors or confrontations. Other girls contribute. We go to war with one another to get a leg up or without even realize we are bashing someone else. Teens all make awful decisions and their bodies are raging with hormones and they can’t even fully understand them. That’s what being a teenager is like. We all were one at one point. 

But every time you ignore a problem, let someone take advantage of someone else, or turn a blind eye to an issue, you are contributing to the problem and that’s essentially what I think the book is about. How many people knew about the ill treatment of a girl in Hannah’s story and did nothing? When the man grabbed Hannah’s butt in the convenience store? The clerk, uncomfortable and angry, still said and did NOTHING. When a girl was raped in her sleep, two people let it happen rather than stop it or even tell anyone about it. When Hannah was being manhandled in the booth of a diner and tried not to make a scene, everyone nearby knew it was happening and uncomfortably looked away. We can’t allow women or ANYONE be treated like that and it’s up to everyone to say something. Don’t let it continue to happen. And that message is something I think anyone working with teens should be exposed to. Adults, too, but it’s imperative that teens are exposed to this issue because high school is difficult enough and without a light at the end of a visible tunnel, it could certainly negatively impact someone permanently. Or, it could have a snowball effect, like the stop sign incident in the book. Either way, it’s never too early to receive the message that what you do and how you treat people and situations has an impact on things and people around you. You are not isolated. Your feelings matter just as much as your actions and those actions impact others. Life is not lived in a vacuum. 

I’m going to give this 4 stars and, despite not liking every aspect of the book, I still highly recommend it for the reasons I’ve mentioned above. It’s a great book with a message that is important to grasp.

Star 4

Review – Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Tell Me Three Things

By Julie Buxbaum

SummaryEverything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy. 

Add to Goodreads

Review:

I’ve been eyeing Tell Me Three Things for awhile, but hardcovers are expensive and I almost never fork out book money on hardcover YA contemporaries because I read them so quickly. And to be honest, I love waffles and I wasn’t quite sure if I only noticed it because of the waffles on the cover. I mean, that’s not a great a reason to pick up a book. I’ve been burned before by enticing covers. But when the kindle version went on sale over the holidays, I snatched it up. I’ve been in the mood for a nice contemporary that wasn’t totally dark or sad, so I finally picked it up and read it.

Tell Me Three Things was so good. I absolutely loved it. I flew through the book in an evening because I just couldn’t put it down without knowing who SN was. (See what I mean about how quickly I read contemporaries?)

Jessie’s life was completely upside down. Her mom died, her dad got remarried, they moved across the country, and Jessie ended up in an LA private school with a bunch of rich teenagers. And that was pretty much just the first paragraph. I hated being the new girl, so her situation was something I totally got. And while I fortunately have both my parents, I did have to deal with step parents and step siblings as a teenager, too, so I even understood that. It’s tough, and it’s even tougher when you have to also deal with grief. I knew I was settling into a book that hooked me.

After a rough first couple of days at her new school, Jessie received an email from SomebodyNoboby (SN for short) who offered to help her navigate the wilds of her high school. It was just the rope she needed to help keep her afloat. Here was a guy who really got her, but who was he? She took the help and ended up having some pretty meaningful conversations and he gave her some great pointers.

With SN’s help, Jessie was able to make some friends. She started working a project with a guy in her class and started to develop a bit of crush on him, but she was also desperately trying to figure out who SN was. She started a job and ended up working side by side with a guy dating one of the girls who was mean to Jessie, which created some drama for her. It was a complicated mess she was trying to navigate, while also trying to manage her home life. Her new home was huge, came with a flamboyant stepbrother who refused to talk to her in school, but was at least opening up a bit at home, a “helper” who made all of the food and made Jessie a bit uncomfortable, and a stepmom who was practically a stranger. The LA lifestyle was an alien world and Jessie was trying to figure it all out and still maintain her friendships back in Chicago.

I can’t really give anything away, but I loved the book so much. I loved the build up to the big reveal, the complicated boy drama, and the coming of age, figuring out who you are and how to be a better friend and forgive your parents. It was cute, but with just enough seriousness to balance it all out. 

I loved the end so much I reread it a few times just to experience the moment one more time! 

I definitely recommend Tell Me Three Things to fans of YA Contemporary. The book is every bit as delicious as the heart shaped waffles on the front. 

Star 4

Review – Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

 

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

By E.K. Johnston

SummaryVeronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine. 

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale

Source: I purchased a hardcover

Add to Goodreads

Review:

I’ve been wanting to read Exit, Pursued by a Bear for some time and I finally bought it over the holidays and decided to read it shortly afterwards. 

The book is a YA contemporary involving rape, which I knew going in and caution anyone else about so they can decide if that’s a subject they prefer to read about. I didn’t have any real expectations, though I have to admit I did expect a somewhat dramatic novel due to the subject matter.

Surprisingly, the book was not the dark and turbulent novel I was expecting. Though Hermione did have to deal with being drugged, raped, and the aftermath, the book wasn’t focused so much on the darkness of the subject, but rather the support she received through her friends, family, and even her cheerleading team. Hermione was fortunate in many ways to have a support system and it changed how her story of survival went. Results aren’t typical for many people, but I was grateful for the unique perspective. She did not want to be a victim, a cautionary tale, or anyone’s object of pity, and she did whatever she could, with the help of her support system to maintain her normal life and recover.

There are a few negative reviews, admittedly among a sea of very positive ones, that mention how unrealistic the book is and how Hermione’s situation is an insult to real victims. I think there are hoards of rape stories from many perspectives and many, if not most, have fairly dark and awful truths, a lot of struggling and depression and blame going around. A lot of people don’t have support systems and most works of fiction involving the subject matter reflect that. They have to fight tooth and nail against legal systems, families, friends, social groups/towns, even religious groups, to be believed and heard and may not ever get any closure. It may ruin their lives in more ways than one and they remain victims of more than just the rape at that point. But one person’s experience (even MOST people’s experiences) does not negate the experiences of others. Hermione’s tale may not be typical, but it doesn’t make her story any less relevant or realistic. People with wonderful lives, friends, families, etc still get raped and have to live their lives after that. They have to deal with the situation, make tough decisions, and move on in whatever way works for them, through trial and error, with or without breakdowns. In fact, Hermione even mentioned to her therapist that she felt like something was wrong with her because she didn’t feel anything because she didn’t remember. I feel that Hermione’s determination to not be victimized by the situation was an attitude I admired, even though I realize it’s not that simple for most rape victims.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a story about a teen girl who was drugged and raped at a cheerleading camp and the events afterwards. She had a wonderful support system. No one really doubted her, the legal system did what they could to pursue the case. But even still, she had some tough and awful moments. She faced a decision about whether she’d have to terminate a pregnancy as a result. She lost time due to being drugged and struggled with waking up in the morning because she didn’t know where she was. She couldn’t remember the event, which halted her ability to really “deal” with the events because she had nothing to relive, no emotions to work through, until pieces of her memory were recovered after being triggered by certain smells, sounds, etc. Her lack of emotion regarding her own circumstances concerned her, since it felt like it had happened to someone else. In a small town, she also had to do her best to avoid being the tragic case for everyone to remember. She wanted to remain herself and hold onto the wonderful life she knew she had. But her support system made all of these things a million times easier than they are for many people and her friendships strengthened her. 

I’d recommend this book. I recommend reading it for various reasons. As a person who has not experienced what Hermione has, it was helpful because I was able to see how much a support system matters and how not to treat victims, how to be sensitive without pitying, how to be compassionate without making the victim feel fragile, how to be a friend to someone who has had this terrible thing happen to them and be a good one. The book even talked about slut shaming, victim blaming, and the way society still places a portion of the blame on the victim by asking questions like, “what could you have done to prevent it” without even realizing how screwed up that mentality is. I don’t think all stories involving rape need to be focused on being a victim. I thought this book was refreshing because, in an ideal circumstance, despite the awfulness of the situation, Hermione could overcome the events that might have otherwise further impacted her life. It’s not always simple to decide not to be a victim, but her attitude and her support system allowed her to do so. Still, if you feel that it’s a negative thing to have a character not be defined by her situation or if you feel it’s unfair to showcase a victim’s perspective when they had it relatively easy, then this is NOT the book for you. For others, including myself, it’s a refreshing point of view.

Side note: Hermione does release a breath she did not realize she was holding. *That phrase does not bother me, but if you’re already on the fence about the book, you might not like the writing. 

Star 4