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Exit, Pursued by a Bear

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“I love you,” Polly says suddenly when I’m almost to the door.
“I know.” I say.

Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.
But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels m ones she never imagined:
Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.
Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Oliver’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.
Heartbreaking and empowering, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the story of transcendent friendship in the face of trauma.
“I love you,” I say, because I really, really do.
“I know,” says Polly.

243 pages, Hardcover

First published March 15, 2016

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About the author

E.K. Johnston

22 books2,311 followers
E.K. Johnston had several jobs and one vocation before she became a published writer. If she’s learned anything, it’s that things turn out weird sometimes, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. Well, that and how to muscle through awkward fanfic because it’s about a pairing she likes.

You can follow Kate on Twitter (@ek_johnston) to learn more about Alderaanian political theory than you really need to know, or on Tumblr (ekjohnston) if you're just here for pretty pictures.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,238 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,945 reviews291k followers
June 8, 2018
“I’m not going to quit, Florry.” I look up and see that Polly has turned around again, and that Caledon is looking at me in the mirror. “I am not going to quit.”

I think some people will have issues with this book. I get that. I really do. But I also think the ultimate strength of Exit, Pursued by a Bear is that it is not a typical story about a girl who gets raped and is consumed by it. Those stories absolutely matter and they are oh so very important, but there are many different experiences out there and I'm glad this one is being told.

In my experience, stories about rape survivors fall into one of two categories: 1) a girl (occasionally, a boy) falling apart in the aftermath of rape, or 2) a mystery about the rapist's identity. This is neither. Hermione is sad, confused and angry, but this is predominantly a book about strength.

Rape is a crime often about power and weakness - the rapist makes the victim powerless by taking away their choice - but here Hermione does something unusual. She reclaims the power stolen from her. She has a strong support system. She doesn't become defined by what happened.
“I am constantly surprised, these days, at the creative ways by which people will avoid saying “you were raped.” Everyone’s broken where that word is concerned.”

Don't get me wrong, Johnston portrays the brutal reality of slut-shaming and victim-blaming that often comes after sexual assault. And this story looks at a victim of date rape drugs and the particulars of those cases - the extra layer of helplessness at being unable to remember; to want to help the police solve the crime and just seeing blackness; to be afraid to go to sleep because of the loss of time and memory; and the ultimate horror - to not know who is responsible and where they are now.

But most rape stories are about the weakness and the pain; this one shows the weakness and the pain, and yet it is not really about them - it is about good girlfriends, supportive parents and strength.

It's also about the people surrounding a rape survivor and how the crime comes to affect more than just the victim - the parents who weren't there, the friends who didn't notice that something was wrong - and I really liked that. It makes me feel quite emotional to imagine this group of people uniting against something horrific; the implication being that by giving our support to rape survivors, we are all reclaiming the stolen power. We are all beating the rapists together.

The author delivers a truly incredible ending, pulling all of this together and ending on an emotional high. Rape will always be disgusting, and sometimes it will damage and break its victims, but those of us surrounding them have a choice how we react to it. By offering compassion instead of blame, understanding instead of suspicion, maybe rape survivors will feel less like something irretrievable has been taken from them and less defined by what happened.

TW - Rape.

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Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,240 followers
March 14, 2016
There is something just so undeniably beautiful about Exit, Pursued by a Bear aside from the accomplished writing and powerful subject matter. I could not put this down from start to finish.

Hermione Winters is co-captain of her high school cheerleading team. She is beautiful, popular, and excited to start her last year of cheer camp. It was quite contagious because even I was excited for her, yet I knew what was to come. One night everything changes when someone slips something into her drink. She was raped. Now the star cheerleader is the pariah pregnant girl (not usually the case). Luckily, the community is full of support. Unlike other novels dealing with similar subject matter, this focuses on the recovery and support in the aftermath. Hermione is determined not to be a victim. She won’t let her attacker win.

I appreciate how powerful this story is with E.K. Johnston’s ability to show that there are many different ways to cope and heal after a sexual assault. Every victim is different. Not every situation is the same. Some are affected by the experience deeply, but still choose to grow from it and just not be so trusting of the world. You don’t have to let it define you.

The things that set this book apart from others somewhat similar is the protagonist’s refusal to be a victim, a community that comes together in the aftermath, and there’s even a strong female friendship you can’t help but admire. If you’re on the lookout for an impactful YA contemporary novel with a strong protagonist who refuses to be a victim, look no further.

Also..before anyone harps on the protagonist’s first name, I’d like to point out that because she is a senior in high school it is entirely possibly for her parents to have been fans of the Harry Potter books before she was born. The first three came out in the 90s. This actually is very plausible. Because of this, I personally love that E.K. Johnston chose Hermione as the main character’s first name. It also gets addressed briefly in the book :)
Profile Image for Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~.
347 reviews922 followers
March 12, 2018

So Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a short book about a senior co-captain of her school's cheerleading squad, and how she deals with the aftermath of being sexually assaulted at a summer camp.

I don't know what I really expected from this one, but it wasn't this. I was not even KIND OF compelled to keep reading this, but it was just so short, so I finished it if only to keep from adding another book to my DNF shelf. I just don't understand the point it's trying to make, I guess. There was no deeper meaning, there was no tension or twists, and everything about this story is too fluffy & nice for my liking.



So this is all about our MC, Hermione, who attends this cheerleading camp where at a party, her drink is spiked and she's raped and left in the lake. When she awakes, she remembers nothing. On it's own, this is a pretty devastating occurrence.

In the hospital the day after, Hermione's best friend Polly is there by her side. Everything Polly says is perfectly what Hermione needs to hear.

The female police officer and staff at the hospital are perfectly professional and do a great job making Hermione comfortable.

Hermione's parents are perfectly supportive, allowing her to do whatever and go wherever she needs to go to heal. Her input about their careful treatment of her is instantly resolved.

The school counselor knows perfectly well how to speak with Hermione and gives her all the space she requests.

The therapist she sees is hilarious and sarcastic and just perfectly suited to deal with Hermione's case.

Polly and Hermione perfectly recite a scathing response when a sexist reporter suggests that women are responsible for preventing rape, even though they're both supposedly caught off guard when asked this question.

Hermione ends up being pregnant as a result of the assault and decides to get an abortion, which goes off without a hitch. Perfectly.

Are you starting to see a pattern?

The only source of tension is her boyfriend Leo, who is salty about Hermione not spending every moment with him during camp and believes that she never would've been assaulted if she'd been hanging out with him "like she was supposed to." Now, of course all of Leo's closest friends denounce his attitude immediately, because that's how boys really actually work in the real world.

Don't mistake me. I'm not saying all guys are jerks. But I find it unbelievable that all his friends would turn on him so quickly because that just isn't a real world experience in most cases.

Even by the end of this book Leo has come around and seen the error of his shitty opinion. So there goes one of the only two sources of tension in the novel. The other being who actually raped Hermione.

Which we do find out at the end to be a boy on another cheerleading team who was at the camp. Hermione sees him at their final competition and realizes it's her attacker because he looks guilty when he sees her.

This kid was apparently smart enough to swap out his DNA sample when the police were looking for a suspect, but he's stupid enough to drop a water bottle he just took a sip out of into a nearby trashcan KNOWING FULL WELL THAT HE JUST SAW HERMIONE THERE!

Plus, is he really going to look outwardly guilty? Are you sure he won't look triumphant & haughty & condescending when he sees the girl whose life he has ruined???? Ugh.

And then the story ends with the idea that Hermione will get justice. She'll go off to college (she was accepted to every one she applied to) and she'll move on from this horrible event no worse for the wear only a few short months later...

I don't know. I don't know what I'm supposed to take from this. It was far too clean, too nice, too perfect for me to take it seriously. These events are traumatizing, and everyone deals with shit in their own way. But it's hardly ever as easy to deal with as this book would have you believe.

Rape is an emotionally catastrophic and ugly thing, and I saw none that reality here.

EDIT 03/11/2018:

However, I would like to add to this review since quite a few folks & survivors have commented expressing their love for this book, and have given me a new perspective to think on.

People deserve to see stories they can relate to that have happy endings. I am not a rape survivor, and perhaps that is part of why I could not find a connection to this book.

Maybe this story was not written for me. And that's okay!

So, if you've made it this far into my review, just know that while I personally did not enjoy this book, many others have. This story is the story we wish all survivors could claim as their own, and if that is something that you feel you could benefit from reading, I think this is probably a book for you!
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
August 1, 2019
I don't know what it is about this book that makes it so fucking heartbreaking. I don't know why it was so powerful or why it sat so right with me, why it left me crying at 12:30 am after I'd read the whole thing in one sitting. But holy god, if I didn't love it.

What's important about this book, to me, is the emphasis on friendship between women as a process for healing. As you'll probably know from the blurb, this book focuses around sexual assault. But it is a very different narrative from some you've probably read - lacking in romance, focusing on healing from ptsd rather than how difficult being a rape victim is.

I've seen a lot of people saying they disliked this because it underplays the bigotry people often face after being assaulted, and I understand that complaint. Though she does face hardship in this category, Hermione's arc is more focused on her own ptsd than on the hatred and bigotry she faces from others. But I honestly believe that's exactly what is so strong about this book: it's not about hate from outside sources, it's about the trauma itself and working through it. I actually think this book will be far more appealing to actual survivors of sexual assault than some of the edgier books on this topic. It's intense, but never loses its sense of hope.

I also think that the character work displayed here is especially incredible. You get so far inside Hermione's head that you feel as if you know her. Hermione as a character shines as well; brave, but not to the point of stupidity, funny and smart and flawed and always sympathetic.

VERDICT: This was my second of Johnston's books, and I enjoyed it immensely; perhaps even more than A Thousand Nights, which is one of my favorite books. I can't recommend this author's work enough, but this gorgeous book especially.

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Profile Image for Charlotte May.
682 reviews1,048 followers
June 9, 2020
Finally a 5 star book in 2020. And what a book it was!!

Hermione Winters is about to enter her final year of high school, before that though her final Summer at cheer camp. Along with her best friend, fellow co-captain Polly; Hermione is determined for this to be their best year yet.

However her entire world is rocked when her drink is spiked, she is raped and left unconscious in the lake. When she is found she has no memory of the attack - no idea who it could have been and the lake washed away any physical evidence. Their only chance of DNA evidence is if Hermione ends up pregnant.

Aside from the terrifying yet relevant premise, this book did so much good in such a short amount of pages.

The cheerleading team are shown as respected athletes. Whenever we hear of cheerleaders it’s normally hugely stereotypical. These girls and guys were supportive of each other and so serious about their sport and it was great.

There is such a learning curve for one of the characters. After the attack so many people are quick to victim blame, particularly Hermione’s ex boyfriend who thinks ‘of she’d been dancing with him like she was supposed to it wouldn’t have happened.’ Wow right?! But honestly his character really sorts his shit out and I am here for guys learning how to be better.

The Reverend!!! He honestly has the tiniest part, but in that part he is awesome! He knows how to spread love and acceptance. Absolute hero.

Polly and Hermione’s friendship. Honestly they are perfect and I loved it.

It is a tough topic, mixed in with a mystery element, where I desperately hoped the sick rapist would be caught. But I will not reveal the end! Just read this book guys! You won’t regret it.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,399 reviews9,534 followers
April 28, 2016

I wasn't sure I was going to read this book because it is about rape and I tend to be careful reading those kinds of books for personal reasons. I mean I can skim over them if they are too explicit. BUT this book is so freaking awesome! I know that sounds weird about a book where the girl gets raped but there is so much more to this book than meets the eye.

I'm guess I'm going to add some SPOILERS if you want to call them that because I'm not going to tell you who did it or anything like that. I just want to add some excerpts and talk a little bit about the people in the book so it might be considered "MILD SPOILERS"

Hermione is a sweet girl who is a co-captain of a cheerleading team. Polly, her best friend, is the other captain. They all go to camp where they practice with other schools they will eventually go up against. Hermione and Polly have a couple of new guys on the team they have to teach and Hermione's boyfriend is on the team as well. He's sort of... okay, he's a douche!

They are having grueling days of training and are allowed a couple of days here and there for fun. They have a little dance one night before they all start heading home from camp. This dance was supposed to be fun and it is until the jerk that slipped the drug into Hermione's drink.


"Polly," I say. And then I can't stop saying it, "Polly PollyPollyPollyPolly," I'm near hysteria, I can feel it. I'm going to scream and scream and scream, to make up for the screaming I didn't do last night. I am going to pull my skin off and grind it into the floor and then I'm going to cry until I've got nothing left.
I don't do any of those things, though, because Polly climbs right into bed with me. She can move so fast. The nurse doesn't even have time to protest. She's on top of the blanket, and her legs are on top of mine, but her arms are around me, keeping me from flying apart, and suddenly I want to die slightly less than I did the moment before.

↑ Polly is a remarkable friend in this book. I wish I had a friend like her. She keeps Hermione grounded throughout the whole book. But Hermione isn't just a girl that gets raped and doesn't remember it. She's a girl that stands up to anyone who tries to make her that girl. She's strong and she has strong people on her side. This is what I loved about this book because if only more people had that in their life, maybe they could stand up to anything. Maybe they could find themselves. Maybe they wouldn't feel so alone and shunned. There is a powerful message from these two young ladies in this book.

I told you Hermione's boyfriend Leo is a douche in the book. He tries to play it off that she was flirting with guys and not paying attention to him enough. Like she deserved what happened to her. Little f*cker! But Hermione can handle it and she has plenty of people to back her up.

"If you think I'm going to apologize for being drugged and raped, you have another thing coming," I say. I am surprised and impressed at how level I manage to keep my voice.

There are so many excerpts I could give in this review. I love so many. This book is just so good damn it. I recommend it to everyone. Okay, I have to do one more because I just... I just have to.

"So let me get this straight," says Polly, her voice deceptively calm. "You're okay with asking a girl who was wearing a pretty dress and had nice hair, who went to the dance with her cabin mates, who drank from the same punch bowl as everyone else--you're okay with asking that girl what mistake she made, and you wouldn't think to ask the boy how he would avoid raping someone?"

That's the million dollar question right?

Hermione gets through this. She does have to make some hard decisions. She has to see a therapist. She starts to remember bits and pieces, nothing major. She makes plans with her friends on which colleges they are picking, she finds herself and just maybe she finds a little bit of true love in the mix, nothing major.

Freaking awesome book people!

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Rose.
1,857 reviews1,048 followers
July 26, 2016
Initial reaction: I am most definitely in the minority of opinions surrounding this book. Having said that, "Exit, Pursued by a Bear" definitely has its heart in the right place and I think had the intention of being an inspiring read with a protagonist who, in the aftermath of her rape, faces life with much conviction and purpose to not allow the experience to define her or what she wants. That's awesome, I have no contention to that since every person's experience with coping with the aftermath of being raped is different.

What I did have contention with is the fact this narrative seems to gloss over some really important issues that occur with Hermione's experience. Plus, one does not need to convey strength or purpose in the aftermath of a horrific event by putting down other reactions - even measures of grief - to such events. There's no one definition of "normal" or "strength" when it comes to discussions of experiences like this, and I feel like the narrative contradicted itself on a number of occasions. Unfortunate, because I think this book could've been even more of a powerhouse for impact in detailing the individual experience of this character. *sighs*

Full review:

"Exit, Pursuit by a Bear" is a loosely based reimaging of Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale" (more like some characters and references are made to the original play, but it's really its own story. "Exit, pursued by a bear" remains one of my favorite turns of phrase for stage direction though from Shakespeare's plays). Hermione is a young woman who is the peppy, energetic leader of her cheerleading squad. She seems to have an attentive (if a bit pushy) boyfriend, great friends and family surrounding her. Things take a fateful turn after one night when Hermione is drugged and raped - left by a nearby lake at the camp in which her team's competition takes place. She has no memory of what was done to her, and while she has something of a quirky personality and ability to distance herself from horrible things, she fights against having her life defined and maligned by her rape and the spiral of events that follow in the aftermath of it. It really has more ties to Shakespeare rather than Veronica Mars, and I'm thinking the only reason the Veronica Mars comparison comes about has to do with a very pertinent plot point that was a part of the series and Veronica's experiences (and how she was able to open up about it). People who have seen the series probably know the plot point I'm discussing, but Veronica Mars (as a series) had far more time and care taken to develop that conflict than this book chose to delve into. So it's a very odd comparison, to be quite honest.

I was really taken into the story to begin with. I liked Hermione's confident personality, I liked the descriptions of the cheerleading and I loved the supportive friendship between Hermione and Polly. But after a certain point, the quality of this book took a very sharp decline and decided to rush things to heck and back, particularly dealing with some of the repercussions and events that happened after Hermione's rape. I was left disappointed by how the narrative chose to deal with the overarching conflict surrounding Hermione's rape - on numerous levels - and even found myself offended by the suggestions made by the narrative in this measure.

No two people have the same experience and dealings with the aftermath of rape. It's wrong for people to try to box reactions as to how someone will feel after any form of sexual assault. Some may feel more hampered by the weight of their grief, sending them into a spiral from which they may not recover from considering they know their rapist quite well (see Amber Smith's "The Way I Used to Be"). Some may know their rapist and gradually come to terms with acknowledging that not only it happened to them but they find a way to reveal that to their family, friends, loved ones after much hardship (see Laurie Halse Anderson's "Speak" or Courtney C. Stevens "Almost Normal"), some may find themselves the subject of ridicule among their peers and community members from the harmful effects of rape culture (See Aaron Hartzler's "What We Saw", Alina Klein's "Rape Girl", Courtney Summers' "All the Rage" and "Some Girls Are"). There are also narratives that deal with childhood sexual abuse (Barry Lyga's "Boy Toy" and Elizabeth Scott's "Living Dead Girl.") There are also rape narratives that deal with what happens when a friend or family member is accused of rape and the complex emotions that come with recognizing the reality of that (Jenny Downham's "You Against Me").

But in addition to those narratives (notice I'm being inclusive and not excluding these different types of stories, many of these cross in focus if you find yourself perusing the narratives), you may also have a scenario where a young woman makes an attempt to cope with the aftermath of her rape by pushing forward against the pain and reaffirming the things that maker her life worthwhile - by focusing on things that help her keep control of the things she wants her life to be about against the pushback of others who seek to define and demean her experiences. By establishing control over the things she knows, loves and can make sense of. This should've been the story of "Exit, Pursued by a Bear" - at least that's what it seems to aim for. There were places in the narrative where I distinctly saw this and thought it worked for the novel. Sadly though, this narrative actually worked more against that focus than anything else, and there are moments when I was truly taken aback by how it plays into harmful narratives that actually demean those who are coping in the aftermath of sexual assault. The reason I say this is because there are times when Hermione subtly undermines those who feel grief or "fall apart". In that the book sends mixed messages - if you're willing to accept that people think and feel differently in the aftermath of rape and sexual assault, then why establish such a stringent definition of the push towards "normal"? Why diminish the experiences of people who DO fall apart after this experience? To me - it really doesn't make sense.

Instead of establishing Hermione's experiences as being worthwhile in itself and as a part of the different narratives of rape/SA survivors, it instead undermines the myriad of narratives by creating an ideal or best scenario where the conflicts aren't necessarily dealt with, where Hermione's struggles aren't necessarily dimensional for the way they're presented. It's one thing to consider weighing the balance of her emotions at times (which this narrative does considering she doesn't remember the rape, but she still feels the weight of grief in places), but it's another to glide past them by not having her really think about them and recognize the weight they have. Sure, she's doing what she feels is best for her, but it doesn't fully take on the weights and pushes past them without so much in the measure of recognition.

I think "Exit, Pursued by a Bear" is worth reading providing another narrative voice and experience in the aftermath of rape/SA, but I feel disappointed by the way the narrative started off with promise only to really shortchange the discussion by the nature of its presentation. I feel like it could've been a stronger, deeper, and more inclusive narrative in the aftermath of reading it.

Overall score: 3/5 stars.
Profile Image for Lala BooksandLala.
500 reviews61.1k followers
May 24, 2017
If I am COMPARING this to other young adult novels that deal with rape, yes, I definitely concur with the general population that this is a 4 or 5 star read. It is an important story and by showing a contrasting reaction made by the main character and her peers compared to other books of this genre, it evokes a different reader reaction as well.

However, rating it as a story on its own, I was not a huge fan. You must admit, we've all read an averagely written book but that we gave a high rating because we CONNECTED to it, found something in it that speaks to us on a personal level. For me, this was an averagely written book that I felt so DISCONNECTED with due to personal experiences and feelings, that the rating got knocked down instead.

So there is the rating I GIVE the book because of my own reading enjoyment, and the rating I WANT to give it because I in no way would want to deter anyone from reading this. I can easily see why the majority of people enjoy this book, but I do feel that have to stick with my honest rating, which is 2 stars....however, please don't take it as a lack of a recommendation. Do read this, you will likely appreciate it.
Profile Image for Summer (buttermybooks).
125 reviews110 followers
March 7, 2016
Have you ever read a book that was so beautifully put together and perfect that you find yourself thinking about it for days after you’ve finished? That was me with Exit, Pursued By a Bear.

Starting this book, I don’t think I knew just how profoundly it would impact me. Immediately after I began reading; I felt this impending sort of doom. Everything in Hermione’s life was a little too normal. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. After about 50 pages, that shoe not only dropped but it brought down every woman’s biggest fear on Hermione. What separates this book from others that deal with similar issues is that Hermione receives almost nothing but support. Even in her decision to get an abortion, Hermione’s family and friends stand by her; never wavering. This book also delves into how differently everyone deals with being raped, which is very important. I think showing diversity in how everyone recovers from sexual assault is necessary. I loved that Johnston showed how Hermione doubted her own coping mechanisms, as well, because that is a very real struggle. I have also never really read a book that goes into the details immediately following rape like this one did. Every single detail of this book felt like it was handled with care and Johnston’s compassion for this subject really shines through. SPOILER: I cried at least 6 times.

I would like to mention a part of the book that really spoke to me. When Hermione asks her pastor to stop requesting that the congregation pray for her was really powerful to me. It not only showed that she was strong, it showed me that she was going to move forward. Hermione did not let the assault define her.

This book is not only captivating, it is also important. A comprehensive and realistic portrayal of sexual assault and recovery
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
655 reviews3,852 followers
October 12, 2017

Exit, Pursued by A Bear is a book recommended to me quite a bit, and I've just seen a lot of hype for it out and about. I decided to read it for TheReadingQuest as my buddy read challenge.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: before I get into anything, the book has the following triggers which will be discussed in this review: rape, sexual assault, alcohol spiking/drugging, alcohol use, abortion & discussions around abortion

Exit, Pursued by a Bear primarily deals with the rape of a girl called Hermione at her cheerleading camp. This book is, obviously, confronting. But what it also attempts to be is .... hopeful? Thats a weird thing to say, but Exit Pursued by A Bear goes out of it's way to show a rape victim receiving the help and support they need and deserve. And although it may not be realistic for every situation, and in fact most of them, I was glad we got to see a positive representation of therapy on page.

Hermione Winters endures an incredible amount of hardship throughout this book, and her strength of character is outstanding. I truly admired how strong she was, how resilient and how fierce. Although Hermione faces victimisation from her peers, has to come to terms with her own assault and must also continue on with things like school, cheerleading and university application. Hermione's arc of dealing with her own ptsd and trauma around the abuse was one of my favourite aspects of this book.

The side characters around Hermione are incredibly supportive of her recovery. Although they mess up, they attempt to do better whenever told and give Hermione the support and space she needs. I really liked to see such a helpful response from her teammates, and especially her best friend Polly who acts as Hermione's rock throughout the book.

Exit, Pursued By a Bear tackles the mountains of difficulty victims face head on: Hermione must deal with assault, therapy, pregnancy and being demonised by some of her peers. She must tackle head on the stigma that comes with being a victim, and the way people attempt to blame the victim. These issues were dealt with thoroughly and carefully, while also being honest about the impact of assault on people's lives, both victim and friends/family.

I loved that Exit, Pursued By a Bear addresses the important issues, without ever trying to make them seem edgy or romanticised. The positive and hopeful depiction of therapy and the strong emphasis on friendship and support systems really stood out to me.

“If you think I'm going to apologize for being drugged and raped, you have another thing coming.”

One thing I didn't like about this book was how Polly's sexuality was dealt with. Polly coming out as a lesbian felt clunky and poorly handled and some of the conversation around it irritated me. I definitely felt like her coming out was treated as a plot twist, and since her arc is never shown it just didn't need to be like that. She should of just been out from the start. But I did like there is a f/f relationship between Polly and another cheerleader.

I have also seen this book criticised for it's overly optimistic approach, which I get. I can see why that might not be for everyone, but personally I thought it was nice to see a story where a victim got to put the pieces back together.

I also think the criticism that the writing is not ... great ... is fair.

I loved the ending of this, it was nice that Hermione had a choice and could have taken whichever path SHE WANTED.

“Of course, if I were dead, they could just bury me, and move on. Broken is harder to deal with.”

Exit, Pursued By a Bear definitely made me think about some things I hadn't as much previously, and I read most of it in one night because the story really does drive you forward. I enjoyed the majority of this book, and loved that for once we got to see a victim get the therapy they deserve.
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,052 reviews910 followers
March 31, 2016
A finished unsolicited copy was provided by the publisher for review.

I heard about this one from a couple of bloggers. They were raving about it. And then when I attended Indigo's Summer Preview event, one of the hosts raved about how much they enjoyed it too. It's not a fluff book at all because it deals with rape. The one thing I remember her saying was how much she liked how the teenage girl handled it. And after finishing it, I completely agreed.

I know this is a highly unrealistic portrayal of one's version with rape. Having everyone around her and rallying with her just felt like it was from some TV movie. Because of it were real life, she would feel alone and be alone. And even though it was highly unrealistic, I still liked it. Granted, she had no memory of what happened so it was easier for her to bounce back into her life, but again not all situations are like this. It was still good to read about. She handled herself like an adult and that's something that should be noted. She was responsible, and healthy. Went to therapy, talked to her parents, talked to her friends. They were all there for her. I loved it! Nothing like this happens so easily in real life, it was refreshing to finally have a book where everything goes swimmingly for the character.

Having the setting in a location I'm familiar with was easy to imagine because I would know where they would be driving because they did mention the airport once and I know that area too. The other thing about this book is that there's a lot about cheer-leading. It's a shame that it's not recognized as a sport, but they are still athletes. Tumbling and doing stunts isn't easy if you read about it through Hermione's eyes.

An empowering and liberating read, Exit, Pursued by a Bear will have you cheering on the sidelines for Hermione Winters!



"I'm not going to quit." (75)

"Maybe this would be easier if I acted like I am broken. Then they'll be able to fix me. You can't fix something that doesn't know it's broken." (81)

"If you think I'm going to apologize for being drugged and raped, you have another thing coming." (105)

"I know it wasn't my fault. And no one has ever suggested that it was, but that's what everyone thinks." (195)
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 18 books2,329 followers
January 31, 2016
I really, really liked this. For one thing, I've been looking for a cheerleading YA, so A+ for that. For another, I think it's really, really important to show different kinds of post-sexual-assault narratives, and one this full of positive support is one we really haven't had, especially with an abortion at its center. Hermione, too, is a different kind of heroine, and I think that's equally important - the more narratives and personalities we have, the more we dispel the myth that there's a "right way" to deal, to be a victim (or not), to survive. I loved the wide range of reactions and personalities, and though this wasn't a sad book, I did cry repeatedly. No regrets.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,014 reviews1,050 followers
August 15, 2018
“People will say you’re coping wrong, but really there’s no wrong way. Anything that lets you keep going is the right thing, as long as it’s not damaging. You need to find the way that works for you.”

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a very unique read. From its title alone, you couldn’t help but be attracted to the book. But more importantly, the story gives the reader a refreshing look and perspective about being victimized because the story is mainly about Hermione, a supposed victim who refuses to be a victim and resolves to be treated not any differently than before.

The story is not really about finding the culprit or getting revenge but about how she moves on and keeps going on. It’s about Hermione and her best friend Polly’s true friendship and about the strong support of her cheerleading team. It’s about her getting to keep doing what she loves and pursuing her goals as planned without the constant reminder that she’s a victim and therefore is fragile and broken because clearly, she’s not. Because what happened to her is not her fault. In the shadow of a tragedy, Hermione reminds the readers of true strength of will and optimism.
Profile Image for Selene.
577 reviews134 followers
June 9, 2016
This is a book that could easily be read in a day. I don't know why I waited so long to really get into this!

I'm so glad that books like this exist for ALL girls/women! They need to see how people should treat sexual assault victims!
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,606 followers
April 7, 2016
You may not believe this, but I found this book very refreshing. Yes. A book about rape. Refreshing.

Because this was a book about a girl. An athlete. The co-captain of a championship winning cheerleading squad (and if you don't believe that makes her an athlete, you have clearly never seen competitive cheerleading. That @#$% is hardcore). This is a girl from a loving family, with friends and teachers who care about her, a boyfriend, a minister, a NORMAL LIFE. Hermione Winters isn't a good girl or a bad girl, she's a girl, with family and friends, hopes and dreams, class schedules to fill out, things to do. She does not have being drugged, raped, and left with a terrible choice on her to-do list for fall semester.

Who would?

And when it happens you think, This is a girl like I once was, or a girl like my neighbor/daughter/niece/friend. Her family could be any family. Her friends any group of friends. Not that these characters were two-dimensional, not at all. But because they were real. And Hermione was real. And I truly cared about them all, and empathized with them. With their reactions and their choices, all of them.

But this was not a book t about Rape (capital R) or Abortion (capital A). This was not a book that was edgy for the sake of being edgy. This was a story about a girl. A cautionary tale about someone who didn't want to be a cautionary tale. An important book for girls. For boys. For adults. For mothers and fathers and daughters and sons and girlfriends and boyfriends. An important book without being an Issue Book.

And I loved it.
Profile Image for Katie McNelly.
47 reviews40 followers
March 24, 2017
Exit, Pursued by a Bear, the newest novel from EK Johnston, is a compelling, brief, yet overall captivating read. I couldn't put it down, and was Snapchatting many of my students to tell them how eager I was for them to read it. However, ultimately, this story exists in a dream world, and lacks any meaningful depth.

For immediate starters: yes, I was bothered immensely by the main character's name. Thank the stars this was told in first person, so I had to interact with it as infrequently as possible. It is jarring, and it takes me out of the story many times over to remember: Oh, yes, this is a story. These people are not real. And here, a nod within a story to another story. That's not the only time I was pulled out of the story, but more on that later.

The plot itself is compelling. Many of the twists and turns are given away in the plot's own summary, but that aside, I did want to keep reading. I wanted to know what happened next, and I wanted to know how these characters responded to what obstacles were thrown their way. Many tropes I feared were absent: There was no best friend feud, or best friend love affair. There was no grand spectacle, fallout, or persecution. I was grateful for that.

What I was not grateful for was the bright-sun-shiny-day portrayed throughout. I get it. I get that EK Johnston wanted to write a story in which everything works out in the most positive, pro-social way. I'm glad she did. I'm glad others can see all the different GOOD things there are in the world after devastation. But for me, it didn't make for an emotionally tumultuous or lasting story - hence the 3 stars. It was good. Not saying it could have been great, or even that I want it to be great, but it was "good."

These moments are also what pulled me out of the story; they are a constant reminder that this is a purposefully written story - inauthentic yet optimistic. It reads like a pamphlet in a waiting room, or Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. It's not bad - it's just not *great*.

I would, ultimately, recommend to others.
Profile Image for Katherine Locke.
Author 13 books506 followers
August 15, 2015
I was provided an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Receiving the book did not influence my opinion of the book.

This was stunning. I picked it up thinking I'd read just a few pages and became so instantly engrossed, I forgot my sink faucet was running and my tea went cold. I finished it tonight. Spoiler alert: I couldn't put it down. Literally, couldn't put it down. My tea, which was right next to me, went cold again because I forgot about it.

Hermione's vulnerable without being weak, open without being overwhelming, and she's just plain wonderful. She reminds me of her HP counterpart in all the good ways. I love her friend circle and all the people who surround Hermione. Like real life, people don't always react in the best of ways to Hermione's rape, and they aren't perfect. They victim-blaming, knowingly and unknowingly, and they struggle with how to react to it. They know the rape changes the dynamic somehow, they just can't put their finger on it. Johnston works this with a deft hand.

Fast paced despite being a largely internal book, I recommend that you set aside a few hours and just read this straight through. I put the book down feeling simulatenously furious and elated, which I think is exactly the point. I'm furious that all rape victims can't have the support Hermione had from law enforcement, health care professionals, her friends, and her family. I'm elated at the strength and determination that seeps through the pages and into the reader's hands. Hermione and her teammates are everything that is wonderful about friendships (particularly female ones).

Johnston's compassion comes through again and again, and I hope that every girl who has ever been sexually assaulted gets her hands on this book. Let Dr. Hutt be your Dr. Hutt. Let Hermione's strength be yours. If you don't have a Polly, let Polly fight the voices and doubts in your head. You are okay. You're going to be okay. It wasn't your fault.

This was brilliant. It is a Must Read.
Profile Image for jv poore.
609 reviews202 followers
November 30, 2016
This book tackles and tames a very important, yet often taboo, topic in the most tactful way. That is not to say that a heinous crime is sugar-coated. It is certainly not. At the same time, it is not given center stage either. There are no graphic descriptions, no laborious detailed play-by-play there are only the facts. The truths are terrible enough.

But the book is less about the crime, more about the impact of the crime and its ripple effect. Hermione’s story is about strength, courage, resilience, friendship and family. It is about looking at the whole picture after seeing all of the pieces. It is the reminder that sometimes, even when we have all of the facts, there’s still no easy answer.

This book is somehow simultaneously heart-felt, heart-wrenching and heart-warming. It is bold and brilliantly written, mingling laughter with tears.
Profile Image for disco.
559 reviews221 followers
May 10, 2018
One of the best things about Exit, Pursued by a Bear is how it kills stereotypes and breaks through walls. The book is centered on a sexual assault and the repercussions of such. Something that really made this book so strong is the amazing support system that Hermione Winters had. Usually this isn’t the case, but it showed how someone could strive past this situation with the proper help and guidance.

I think the author did an extremely good job capturing the thought process of Hermione and writing her as a strong, powerful, independent and determined woman. I am looking forward to reading more of her work – if you have a chance, definitely read the author’s note at the end. :)
Profile Image for Justine.
1,111 reviews301 followers
May 17, 2016
I keep my eyes closed and my sleeping bag under my chin. Will I ever have it this good again? I will wake up somewhere new this time next year. I have only a few more mornings in this world, in this world that loves me for what I love and for what I am good at. One more minute. One more.

Hermione Winters makes this observation on the inevitable life changes that are ahead for her, but for the reader, knowing what is coming, the words are especially poignant. During a dance held at the end of the annual cheerleading camp which Hermione is attending for the last year, she is raped. Thanks to the drugs that were slipped into her drink, Hermione has no memory of the event or her attacker. In a way, this makes processing the event somewhat easier, but she still has to deal with the fallout of the terrible thing that has happened to her.

Fortunately, Hermione has a range of friends and family who are there to support her. In particular, her best friend Polly is an absolute lioness in her defense of Hermione, and speaks out unflinchingly to anyone who suggests her friend is somehow at fault for being raped:

So let me get this straight...[y]ou're okay with asking a girl who was wearing a pretty dress and had nice hair, who went to a dance with her cabin mates, who drank from the same punch bowl as everyone else--you're okay with asking that girl what mistake she made, and you wouldn't think to ask a boy how he would avoid raping someone?

Athough separated by genre, Hermione and Polly feel to me like sisters woven from the same skein as Johnston's nameless protagonist and her sister from A Thousand Nights. The women from the palace in that book are like the cheerleading team from Palermo High School. There is a certain strength and acknowledged vulnerability, a fiery love, and a power wielded by those who are underestimated, that comes out in all these characters.

Ultimately this book is a powerful work that reminds us that while the rape may have been comitted on an individual, we can all be part of the survivor's story.
Profile Image for Maria.
564 reviews354 followers
December 8, 2016

“I’ve never met any of these women before, and I will never see any of them after today. I don’t know their names and they don’t know mine. I’ve been on teams and in clubs my whole life, surrounded by people who are united by a common purpose, and I have never felt anything like this. Maybe it’s the gas, but until this moment, I have never felt such a kinship with a person who was not actually family. I love every person in this room, and I’m pretty sure that if they asked, I’d do anything for them.”

This book has been on my TBR for so long and I have no idea why it took me this long to read it. Honestly, I’m ashamed of myself. This book was amazing. More so, this book is so incredibly important. I even needed to wait a few days after reading it before even attempting to write this review in order to give my thoughts some time to process. Just please please please read it.


What I Liked

The friendships. Friendships in young adult fiction are so underrated. Nine times out of ten, I’d rather read about an exceptional friendship rather than a relationship. Hermione has the most amazing group of friends and it is amazing that she does. They were there for her through everything she went through and they were there to help whenever she needed it. This perfectly breaks the stereotypical trope of ruthless and catty cheerleaders.

It was real. Everything that Hermione went through was completely realistic. Nothing was romanticized or made to seem perfect. She went through the typical aftermath of experiencing a traumatic event as someone in reality would. More importantly, it explored moments that maybe might not be the norm, like Hermione maybe not feeling the emotions that we have come to expect, or that she personally would expect, as the standard way to feel after said traumatic event happened to her. I loved that this novel explored all the different angles of what Hermione had to deal with.

The discussion of extremely important topics. As you may have guessed by the way I’ve been talking about this novel, they are very heavy and dark themes that take place within this story. Exit, Pursed By A Bear deals with the topic of rape and the aftermath that a traumatic event like that would bring on. Hermione has to deal with the struggle of not remembering a single thing that happened to her. On top of that, she has to deal with the realization that she has become pregnant. Not only does this book discuss the important topic of rape, but also the controversial topic of abortions. I don’t think I have ever read about the idea of an abortion in YA literature before, and I’m glad that I finally have. As mentioned, this book contains some seriously important topics and it’s about time that they are being discussed within young adult novels.

The importance. I mean, I’ve literally just preached about the importance of this novel within the last few paragraphs…but honestly, this novel is important!


What I Didn’t Like

Absolutely nothing. Read this novel right now.


Clearly, I absolutely loved this book. I feel as though I’ve summed up my thoughts in the paragraphs above so I will leave you with one final statement. Read this book.


Initial post reading thoughts:
This was just so amazing. I need some time to gather all of my thoughts.
Profile Image for Paula.
Author 1 book212 followers
August 2, 2016
In her author's note, E. K. Johnston admits straight out that she wrote this book while very, very angry. I bet she did. This is a fucking great novel.

This book is about a teenage rape survivor. Hermione, a popular, pretty, athlete - co-captain of her cheerleading team - was drugged, raped, and left half-submerged in a lake and cannot remember the crime or identify her attacker. She is angry, hurt, and sad, but she and her team and her family tackle each step of her recovery process with courage, love, and determination.

And there you have the bare bones of your standard-issue Problem Novel, during the course of which we will watch our heroine struggle bravely to regain her confidence and perhaps find love all the while plagued by self-doubt. Excuse me while I never ever read a book like that again. Maybe, because Emily Johnston has written this book, I never have to.

Because Hermione does NOT have to deal with parents who judge her or try to smother her. Because Hermione's team rallies around her fiercely. Everyone holds their breath and her hand when she has to endure examinations, pregnancy tests, and a termination procedure, but they never once utter the word "options" - which Hermione notices with gratitude.

When she slaps her ex-boyfriend, whose stance is that "she'd have been safe if she'd been dancing with me," her therapist is eager to hear how hard. And when Hermione stops in to see the pastor to ask him to stop asking the congregation to remember her in their prayers - she does not WANT to be Hermione the Rape Victim and who can blame her - the pastor looks her in the eye with compassion but not pity. Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a freaking casebook of How to Think and Do when dealing with a victim of sexual assault.

In the hands of a lesser writer, this might result in tedium or sanctimony. I think we've all seen movies like that - cancer movies especially perhaps. But bless her, E.K. Johnston is NOT a lesser writer. I read this book in three hours, propelled onward by characters I loved and who loved each other. It is marketed as a cross between Veronica Mars and A Winter's Tale, but honestly I saw more Jessica Jones in it - Hermione faces her trauma with some of Jessica's belligerence (but none of her bourbon), and the friendship between Hermione and her best friend Polly is just as rock-solid as Jessica's relationship with Trish. Remember, at the end of the series, the big climax is Jessica telling her best friend that she loves her? Same thing here. "I love you." "I know."

I imagine that Emily Johnston wrote this book after seeing yet another young rape victim publicly blamed for the crime perpetrated against her. I imagine that she sat down, gritted teeth and flared nostrils and hair on fire, and wrote this book for all those girls, to show them that SOMEBODY knows the right way to treat them, to talk to them and about them. And if that's what we need, if we need a template for how to respond, well, now we have it. Lucky for us it's a compulsive, easy read, because I'm hoping it gets assigned in about a million advisories, homerooms, and health classes.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Andrea.
321 reviews99 followers
July 10, 2016
"Maybe this would be easier if I acted like I am broken. Then they'll be able to fix me. You can't fix something that doesn't know it's broken."

Trigger warning: Rape.

Every summer, Hermione Winters spends two weeks at camp Manitouwabing, cheer camp. Considering this is her last year there, she intends to make the most of it. At a party there a boy spikes her drink and then rapes her. And she remembers nothing.

Unlike other books that deal with similar subject matter, this one focuses completely on her recovery and support. It’s a story about her fight to live and not just survive. Hermione refuses to be treated like a victim. She won’t let her attacker win or what happened to her define her, and strives to reclaim what was stolen from her. Johnston shows a different kind of way to cope with sexual assault, because there is no right way to cope.
“If you think I'm going to apologize for being drugged and raped, you have another thing coming.”

Hermione is one of the best female leads I have ever read about. Her strength and hopefulness blew me away. Her support system was phenomenal. Polly, her best friend, is everything you could ever want in a friend. Her parents were always and completely understanding.

I know it’s not the most realistic situation but all of this shows what could be or maybe how it should be. Police officers who are proactive and compassionate. A pretty amazing and supportive psychologist. Nonjudgmental church goers. It’s everything the world should be.

The author does an incredible job of not shying away from the tough situations that follow Hermione's assault. The emotions felt honest and at times the story was hard to read. Hermione’s story will suck you in and hold on to you until the very last page. I definitely recommend!
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,246 reviews219 followers
May 21, 2016
A brilliant bubbly cheerleader is drugged and raped at camp and has to deal with that going forward.

Hermione Winter is the co-captain of her school's cheerleader squad. It's a small school and cheerleading is the premium sport there. In fact, they're most likely going to be competing at the Canadian Nationals for the sport this year. Most of her friends are in the team, including her best friend and co-captain Polly. So at the beginning of the year, at cheerleading camp, it's pretty devastating what happens to her. But her team rallies around her, her friends and the adults in her life are excellent and the response from authority figures is superb and in some cases almost supernaturally compassionate.

I find a critique of this book hard to write. I'm a middle-aged male, and I'm fairly physically imposing besides. I've never once in my life feared rape. My privilege in this matter is overwhelming. Things like when Hermione wakes up in hospital and immediately knows what's happened and is overwhelmed by the horror of it and then goes on to have a lasting trauma around sleep/anesthetic and waking. Of course this would happen. Would I have expected that scene? Almost certainly not. It's just not in my experience.

The other thing about this book that stands out for me is the idealized nature of it. I think there's a place for it as a guide to "best practice" for professionals, parents, friends and victims. We get police who are compassionate, quick to act, proactive and supportive. As too many rape victims testify any one of those attributes would qualify as idealized. We get a best friend who is a fairly perfect model of how to be the best friend of someone traumatized in this way. We get a church minister who is supportive of Hermione rather than judgemental. And the psychologist here is pretty amazing. And Hermione herself is very cognizant of her own feelings and emotional state, which is important to her recovery, but far from what I or anyone I know was like as a teenager.

This is a really strong book about a confronting subject which I would recommend to anyone.
Profile Image for Stefani Sloma.
398 reviews117 followers
May 16, 2016
I won’t lie – I was first attracted to this book by its title. “Exit, pursued by a bear” is my favorite stage direction EVER, and I was so excited about a book with that title. And then I read it, and WOAH.

EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR is so important. The best part of this book, in my opinion, is that it shows a different way to react to, cope with, and live after a sexual assault. There are a lot of different ways to deal with something like this, and it’s good that we’ve got a book here that shows something other than the girl who is completely consumed by what has happened to her. Those stories are definitely important too, but we need books about ALL the ways to react to this situation.

I LOVE best friend stories, and the best friend in this book – Polly – is the best of the best friends. She’s so supportive but also honest, sometimes brutally so (this was one of the instances where I wasn’t quite so fond of the book).

Hermione Winters (I love the allusions to the play that the title comes from – Hermione is a main character in The Winter’s Tale, hence Hermione Winters – but Johnston also updated it and mentioned her dad’s love of HP) refuses to be a victim. She will not quit, and she doesn’t let what’s happened to her define who she will be in the future. And I really, really appreciate this.

The bottom line: A quick, significant, emotional story about an important topic, a beautiful, supportive friendship, and a fierce, strong MC. It’s worth your time.
87 reviews
June 3, 2016
Wow, as an actual rape victim, I have to say that this book filled me with RAGE.

Hermione has zero feelings and is so matter of fact about the whole thing. Her character has zero development. She felt like a blank slate for stuff to happen to. The writing was not very engaging and because Hermione didn't feel like a real, complex person, the plot was fairly boring too.

The alternate title for this book should be "Rape: A Best Case Scenario." Literally everyone around her is supportive, from her parents to her teammates to her pastor with surprisingly liberal and chill views on abortion. Even the two teammates who spread rumors initially, have apologized by the end. REALLY?! This is so unrealistic it hurts. Like Hermione, I was passed out when I was raped and don't remember much, but I was still messed up about it for YEARS. This book basically says EFF YOU, MOVE ON! to victims who actually struggle.

The fact that 99% of reviewers don't acknowledge how unrealistic this is just goes to show you how entrenched we are in rape culture. "Come on victims, put smiles on your faces and move on!" This book is 100% idealism.

I will say, I appreciated that the book presented a feminist perspective, treated cheerleading as a real sport, and had important messages about not blaming the victim, teaching boys not rape, that abortion should not be stigmatized, etc. but it was way too neat and tidy.
Profile Image for JenacideByBibliophile.
208 reviews126 followers
September 26, 2019
This book is in no way, at all, by ANY means, similar to Veronica Mars or William Shakespeare.

To the person who wrote this book description, did you even read this book?


I was really hoping this book was going to be like open-heart surgery: a precise slice between 2 to 4 inches, an intricate unweaving of my measly little “feeling” strings and an eventual severe, yet purposeful, yanking on my heart like it was a sled delivering presents on Christmas eve.


I didn’t feel much at all.

I had so many readers recommend this book to me after I read The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith, because I was wailing and shrieking about it for months afterwards – and to be honest, I still am. I waited months to actually read this because I knew I would have to set a night aside and really prepare myself for the roller coaster of emotions I was about to feel! With my tissues, tea and emergency cookies on standby- I dove in!

But what I got was…blah.

I am obviously not one of those readers that gives a book a stellar review just because it touches on an important issue. I respect the author for giving sexual assault victims a voice, and for trying to show another version of how the victims and their loved ones are affected by truly terrible crimes like this. I found a lot of positives in this story by way of strong friendships and fierce loyalty, the confusion of how/what to feel when you’ve been assaulted but cannot remember, and the various ways that one’s peers and community reacts.

But I think what really made it hard for me to connect to this story, was the lack of depth in this story. Exit is a “shallow end” version of YA Contemporary/Coming-of-age fiction about rape. It gives you the characters and the facts of what happened before and after the assault, but it only just brushes the surface of the emotional significance that comes with such a horrific crime.

The main character felt very one-dimensional and stiff. She didn’t seem to EVER feel much of anything about what happened to her, and was more worried about her cheer team then the fact that she was raped…? I’m all for moving on and not letting things get you down, but come on! This girl is a teenager. A hormonal, emotional, hard-to-think-rationally teenager! How is she so put together and mature about this situation the ENTIRE book? It feels like lazy writing. Instead of the author really getting in touch with the emotional trauma and how Hermione was coping with the events, she barely stuck a toe into the water and simply told the reader emotions rather than presented them.

There wasn’t anything really special about this book, and I kept finding myself waiting for a big moment of TRUE emotion that unfortunately never ended up coming. The only true gem of this story was Hermione’s best friend Polly. Polly is a really well-crafted, beautiful, strong and detailed character! She is the strength and rock in Hermione’s life, and apparently the only one that is stricken with the events that take place. I almost wish Exit would have focused more on Polly and HER views on the situation as she helped her friend through her assault. It would have been a different viewpoint, and maybe would have given me the feeling and truth that I was looking for.

I think this book would be more suitable for a younger audience, due to its non-graphic and modest approach. I think this could be a decent introductory story to sexual assault if Speak or The Way I Used to Be seemed a little too heavy. But for me, I was left feeling a little empty and unsatisfied with this book.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 6 books1,204 followers
September 24, 2015
This is good. It's really good, especially as it explores victimhood in a light that is rarely explored in YA: Hermione, despite being a rape victim, has a community of support around her. Her parents are supportive. She has an incredible best friend. Her therapist and the police office working on her case are all great. Her town is not suffocating and neither is her story. She is able to take care of business on her own, as she needs to, and there's barely a rumble about it. Nothing beyond typical gossiping. It's a fresh perspective and Johnston's writing here is great.


I'm so torn on whether this book is too easy or not. There aren't obstacles here. And while that's often reality, I wonder about how much a story is tells or what it offers beyond being a book about a girl who was raped and walked away completely okay. That's not undermining the value in that message, not at all, but it feels so safe.

There are many things here that are really Canadian and will likely cause some confusion with American readers, particularly

The pitch on this one is Veronica Mars meets Shakespeare's Winter's Tale. I don't really get V Mars from this at all. Hermione has a great voice, but it's not Veronica's. There's not REALLY a mystery here -- and frankly, that's a strength of this book and not a weakness. I haven't read The Winter's Tale in close to a decade, so that reference is lost on me, though I suspect Shakespearian fans (and they definitely exist in high school!) may pick up on it.

I enjoyed this one. And because it's imperfect, I might like it more than I would were it smoother or didn't leave me with questions and things to mull over. This book isn't meant to be suffocating, and it succeeds greatly at that. But...is this too happily presented? Is this too easy? Does it offer too clean a recovery? I don't know, but these are questions worth wrestling with and Johnston does great at making me wonder.

And Polly as a best friend? She's pretty great.
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