Elise (TheBookishActress)'s Reviews > Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
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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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Quotes Elise Liked

E.K. Johnston
“And if someone does figure it out and starts a rumour, we'll just deal with it," Polly says. "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, and all that crap."
"Do you ever dream of the day when your life can no longer be adequately summarized by Kelly Clarkson songs?" I ask.
"All the time," Polly says.”
E.K. Johnston, Exit, Pursued by a Bear


Reading Progress

March 30, 2016 – Started Reading
March 30, 2016 – Shelved
March 30, 2016 – Finished Reading
June 2, 2016 – Shelved as: 5-star
June 11, 2016 – Shelved as: that-feminist-classic-energy
October 1, 2016 – Shelved as: that-lgbtq-rep-tho
October 1, 2016 – Shelved as: genre-contemporary
November 5, 2016 – Shelved as: marked-as-coverporn
November 5, 2016 – Shelved as: favorite-friendships
January 12, 2017 – Shelved as: narratives-free-of-romance
March 5, 2017 – Shelved as: favorite-characters
March 18, 2017 – Shelved as: faves-of-2016
March 18, 2017 – Shelved as: books-read-2016
April 24, 2017 – Shelved as: ze-faves-in-2016
April 26, 2017 – Shelved as: books-released-2016
June 25, 2017 – Shelved as: narrative-retellings
August 27, 2017 – Shelved as: elise-underrated-list

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by rishika (new)

rishika I heard some things about this being a Shakespeare retelling, is that true?


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Katniss I guess it's more Shakespeare inspired. There's a play called the Winter's Tale which has the same character names and a somewhat similar basic setup?? Honestly, it's my least fave Shakespeare play by far, so I'm kinda glad this is such a loose retelling :/


Latanya (Crafty Scribbles) Very loosely based.


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Latanya very true. I really love this book, but it's nothing like the play :/


message 5: by Caleb (new)

Caleb Gilmore do you feel better


Elise (TheBookishActress) Caleb wrote: "do you feel better"

...about what?


message 7: by Brigid (last edited Mar 04, 2019 03:50PM) (new) - added it

Brigid I think there's room to discuss different aspects of a rape survivor's pain. It doesn't always have to come down to the shame they face. I think somethings we forget is the pain people face, even without people commenting on their experience. Ptsd is difficult. I'm not a rape survivor but I do have trauma that resulted in cptsd. And for me, I'm very interested in how other people deal with trauma and the results on our minds and how we deal with this whole new way of looking at the world.

This book looks amazing. Definitely gonna buy this (you know when I can actually afford to buy more things).


{lady}✨christine I also freaking LOVED this book! It’s been over 2 years and I still think about how hauntingly beautiful the story was.


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