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366 pages, Hardcover
First published October 9, 2014
Did I just say Rapist? Spoiler Alert - Fuck yes I said rapist! In fact I don't think this is a spoiler, It should be some sort of disclaimer when you start the book that says something along the lines of "Althea makes the worst bad decision ever and that decision is to RAPE her fucking best friend." There is no argument, there is no gray area and I am not using this word lightly. The bad decision mentioned in the blurb that threatens to destroy Althea and Oliver's relationship is actual Rape. And I will continue to capitalize the word because unlike most of the characters in this novel, I think Rape is a serious issue. It's not something that's quickly forgiven with a sojourn to New York city or a quick kiss. It's not something that is pushed under the rug just because you happen to care about the said rapist. And it's definitely not something that should be overlooked when it happens to a guy.
And that brings me to another point - surprise, surprise this book is fucking sexist. Everyone knows that Rape is terrible when it happens to a girl, that's not even a question. But in society when it happens to a guy, as in when a girl rapes a guy, the boy is seen as weak or less of a man for not wanting to have sex. And the fact that we see it that way is a big fucking problem. A HUGE FUCKING PROBLEM! And all this book does is perpetuate that view by down playing what Althea did.
Sorry, I'm ranting. Let's back peddle.
Althea and Oliver have been best friends since they were children but it isn't until junior year that Althea starts falling for him. It also isn't until that year that Oliver starts falling asleep and staying asleep for weeks, sometimes months on end. Oliver has a rare sleep disorder called KLS where he is in perpetual state of sleepiness and grogginess. He sleeps for a majority of the day and then when he wakes up he is never quite himself. And by not quite himself I mean seriously not his fucking self. He's attitude is different, he’s childlike, aggressive, he's intensely hungry and not to mention intensely horny. And when he comes to maybe several weeks later he can’t remember a thing. He basically sleeps or sleepwalks for extensive periods of time with no moments of true waking until it’s over. Althea even gets to witness these scenes - she knows that this is not the real Oliver - not her Oliver.
Yet Althea LURVES Oliver. She doesn’t know who she is without Oliver. She’s not a Fucking human being without Oliver. She’s totally dependent on Oliver. Every thought in her goddamn head revolves around Oliver. It makes her seem shallow and airheaded and it makes for a pretty infuriating read but at the beginning I was on her side. I cheered for this quirky shy girl when her and Oliver finally made out if anything because I wanted her to stop whining about it. But Oliver - for reasons that are never ever truly and fully explained - is just not that into her. Yeah he’s sexually attracted to her but he’ll never love her the way she loves him.
So at this point we should be fucking done with this. Oliver straight up tells her he doesn’t want to have sex with her - and they’re both drunk I might add - and she’s broken hearted but as long as shit can go back to normal it’s all good. But things don’t go back to normal. Oliver falls asleep again and is out for two months. Poor Oliver misses his whole fucking summer. He’s the one we should be feeling sorry for. Not Althea. We should not be going - oh poor Althea left all alone especially after Oliver breaks her heart. Yes, that sucks for her but let’s face it - her issues are NOT the big issues here. But in typical selfish teenager fashion, she makes it all about her. She dyes her hair black and makes herself virtually unrecognizable. *rolls eyes* Seriously dying your fucking hair black? She is the actual biggest cliche I’ve ever read. Ever. And through all that self pity and desperate need to feel wanted and loved and special, Althea Rapes Oliver. Again, there is no gray area, no debate. What Althea does to Oliver is Rape in its most basic definition.
When he is under his two month sleep episode, Althea is asked by Oliver’s mother to babysit him and make sure he doesn’t wander off or get himself killed if he happens to “sleepwalk”/ wake up as not himself. And when Oliver does happen to wake up Althea knows that it is not him that initiates a kiss, she knows that he’s completely out of it as he begins to fumble with his belt buckle and she knows that as they have sex he won’t remember any of this - ever. So basically he’s the equivalent of a incredibly drunk teenager and she’s the sober creep that takes advantage of that. And that is not fucking OKAY.
Months later after Oliver’s been awake for quite sometime, she finally tells him the truth and like any person, male or female, he gets angry. Really fucking angry.
"You stupid bitch, it wasn’t me! You knew it wasn’t me, you knew I wouldn’t remember, how could you let it happen? I didn’t want to, I told you–”
And Althea deserves to be called a bitch. So what if he’s a dude calling a woman a bitch. She fucking deserves it. Especially after she’s say’s this beauty of a line: “You wanted to,” Althea says stridently.
Alright now everyone who’s been to a college freshmen year orientation knows that “You wanted to,” is not an acceptable response when someone explicitly says they didn’t want to have sex. Hello??? That’s why you have to fucking ask.
That my dear Althea is called C-O-N-S-E-N-T.
Oh and one more quote just so I can really drive the point home that Althea is a horrible fucking person and deserves charges pressed against her: “Oh no? You didn’t want to? What did you think happened then? Do you think I forced you? Do you think I held you down and made you do it?”
Let that digest. Now switch the roles. Pretend Oliver or an obnoxious frat boy is the one telling Althea all of these horrible condescending things. Pretend that Althea or any other girl is the victim - a girl who’d gotten passed out drunk at a party and taken advantage of by said guy.
… Yeah, exactly.
But at this point In the story I’m intrigued. I’m willing to look past Althea’s shitt personality and character development and see what happens. Will Oliver get her in trouble? Will he cut her off completely? Will she try to redeem herself - is that even possible in a situation like this? How will she live with herself know that she’s a rapist. And most of all how is the author address the horrible stigmas associated with male rape?
But no, none of these things happen. This questions don’t even get a chance to get fleshed out. And everything just goes down the shithole from here. Christina Moracho never addresses these big issues. In fact its like the book is arguing that what Althea did wasn’t truly Rape - Even though it totally fucking was. Instead she keeps it small scoped and talks about Althea’s nonstop intense feelings for Oliver and her intense nonstop vulnerability now that he’s gone.
Oliver does, however, cut her off though and runs away to a treatment center in NYC to see what can be done about his KLS. Althea like the whiny pathetic bitch she is, follows him, not for moral support, not because she wants him to get better but because she can’t stand not having him by her side 24/7 and believes that a quick apology and the gesture of traveling all the way to New York will make him forgive her and then fall in love with her. Afterall it’s just a mistake. STEALING SOMEONES VIRGINITY WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT IS JUST A MISTAKE GUYS, NO BIG FUCKING DEAL. RIGHT?
What a clueless bitch.
But then even Oliver basically pardons her saying that he doesn’t want to use the word Rape to describe what she did to him.
And then his friend tells him this and Oliver seems to actually consider it :
“You fucked your beautiful best friend. What the hell are you doing here, man? Go find the girl and screw her brains out! And this time you will remember!”
I’m done. I’m fucking done.
But that’s not all folks. Althea gets to NYC just as Oliver falls into a sleep episode and she’s just missed him and can’t apologize (for raping him). And what happens over the course of 100 pages is basically Althea - a seventeen year old girl - lying to her father about where she is and living with asshole hipster twenty year olds and “finding herself.” This is the part where I wanted to shoot myself and then every character in this story. Not only is the RAPE (which I still can’t get over) not really mentioned and glossed over but Althea, a girl with a good father and a home life she describes herself as “kinda rich,” basically lives in borderline poverty for a few weeks. I’m not even mad at the hypocrite vegan hippies. I mean they regularly feed the homeless. You can’t get mad at people who regularly feed the homeless. But Althea is a privileged spoiled white girl with “all the problems in the world” who goes slumming. She’s a sevenfuckingteen years old! Go to fucking school or something!
Not to mention that her father is not even that upset about it - as in not as upset as most parents would be. Like did I miss something about the 90’s? Okay admittedly I was born around the time this book takes place so I know virtually nothing about the teenage subculture but could it have been that risque? I mean come on. Althea and Oliver both have no parental supervision. Sure there parents are mentioned a lot but they’re described as equals. Oliver and Althea both casually swear around their parents - which yeah for some kids is normal but it’s like these parents aren’t really parents. There’s no air of authority to them.
But seriously what the ACTUAL FUCK is this book? It fluctuates between ridiculously unbelievable to straight up ignorant. I don’t know how or why I finished it. Maybe I was just waiting for the author to redeem herself and condemn Althea’s selfish actions. But no, Althea continues to be a sniveling child and a virtually unapologetic rapist until the bitter end.
I will say this though: the writing is excellent. It’s the only thing keeping this from a No Star rating. It truly is gorgeous prose and I really was rooting for this book as I opened the first page and was greeted by witty dialogue and the interesting premise of a KLS sufferer. But beautiful writing can’t stand on it’s own. It needs likable Characters and a good plot to take it somewhere.
“I feel nauseous. I told you, I said I wasn’t ready–”
“You wanted to,” Althea says stridently.
You stupid bitch, it wasn’t me! You knew it wasn’t me, you knew I wouldn’t remember, how could you let it happen? I didn’t want to, I told you–”
“Oh no? You didn’t want to? What did you think happened then? Do you think I forced you? Do you think I held you down and made you do it?”
“You knew it was a big deal to me,” he says. “You knew I never would have wanted it to happen like that. How could you not tell me? You’ve been lying for months.”