I expected to like this book. I did not expect this book to leave me for gasping for breath between sobs, wishing like hell I'd picked a different timeI expected to like this book. I did not expect this book to leave me for gasping for breath between sobs, wishing like hell I'd picked a different time to finish it (as opposed to the drive into work, before an entire day facing the public). I did not expect this book. Full review to come....more
This was one hell of a book to start of 2017 with, let me tell you! It's a re-read, but I read it amidst several similar books at the time, so a lot oThis was one hell of a book to start of 2017 with, let me tell you! It's a re-read, but I read it amidst several similar books at the time, so a lot of the details got pretty muddy for me. This book is AH-MAZING. There are definitely some problems with the way this book is paced (we spend maybe 25% of the book getting to the date rape of Hermione and then maybe the last 10% of the book actually coming to any kind of conclusion) but the humanity of the people portrayed in this book overwhelms that.
This book manages to avoid doing all of the things that make me so rage-y about rape-centered story lines. Hermione's parents are incredibly supportive and they BELIEVE HER, her best friend is there for her in all of the best ways (which can be hard to do as the friend of a trauma survivor), there is NO slut shaming tolerated towards Hermione, and the police are kind, effective, dedicated, and ultimately hopeful. All of that combines with the fact that this book also addresses first love, recovery after trauma, the importance of therapy, and the fear and anxiety that surrounds Big Life Changes like going to college and moving away from your friends and family. Much like If I Was Your Girl is a book about a high school girl who just happens to be trans, this book is the story of what it's like to be a popular high school senior who just happens to be raped. And that's an amazing way to structure this narrative.
There are two big things I want to mention on top of all of that, though: one positive, one not so much.
A big part of the plot of Hermione dealing with her rape (view spoiler)[is that she becomes pregnant, uses that fetal tissue to genetically test for her rapist, and then has an abortion (hide spoiler)]. This is, to me, the thing I wish I had known going into the novel, because I think it's the thing that I can recommend it on most highly! A plot point like that could easily have been treated with fear, shame, embarrassment, and religious lamentation over the possible moral outcomes. However, so often actually having that experience doesn't mirror the way it's written about. So to see it in this book, portrayed as a practical and not-debated solution to this particular problem, was wonderful.
The other thing I wanted to talk about was her therapist. Because while his method of therapy didn't bother me, as I've seen in other reviews - exposure therapy, while not perfect, is not a method that seemed out of place to me in this book. However, the disdainful and often just plain mean way that he would speak to her about her cheerleading, demeaning her intelligence and deriding her ability to be a Serious Person because she's also a cheerleader. I just feel like that's 1000% not how a therapist would handle his teenage client recovering from a recent sexual assault.