I wasn’t too sure about this book. The cover, and title, was interesting enough to grab my attention. But after reading e. lockhart’s WE WERE LIARS and being slightly disappointed, I was weary of Johnston’s novel because of the same disappointment.
But then Katie read it and told me how good it was, so I decided, “What the hell?”
E.K. Johnston’s Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Dutton Books, 2016
What It’s About:
For Hermione, there is only goal: complete senior year without the curse of Palmero Heights Secondary School. She never imagined that she would be part of that curse. But when it happens, she makes sure to break the mold. She refuses to be defined by any labels.
Hermione is a cheerleader. She lives and breathes cheering. And the summer before her senior year, she is determined to make the best of her last cheer camp. And it’s going great (well, except for her boyfriend who’s jealous of her time), until the final night dance when someone spikes her drink and rapes her.
Hermione doesn’t remember much happening after her drink was spiked, and she feels that’s part of the problem. To her, the events of that night happened to someone else, not to her. But as the story progresses, she begins to remember, slightly. And she learns to adapt to her memories, and take back the power that had been taken from her that last night at camp.
Another selling point is Hermione is surrounded by a strong support system. Her BFF, Polly, her cheer-team, her parents, her therapist.
This book is definitely for fans of Jo Knowles’s Jumping Off Swings and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.
What I Thought:
I was surprised how much I really liked this book. I mean, honestly. I know that’s a silly thing to say, but it’s true. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and to be disappointed at the ending, like I was with We Were Liars, or how heart-breakingly sad the end of Jumping Off Swings was. But, Johnston’s novel was neither of those things.
First off, I loved that this was a different telling of the normal “girl raped” YA novel. While it’s not necessarily “better”, it’s a refreshing change. And don’t get me wrong, Hermione definitely changes by the end of the novel, so there’s a great outcome. It’s just that she doesn’t wallow or dwell on the fact that she was raped. More, the novel deals with how things change when we least expect them to, and how we have to learn to deal with those changes.
Another thing that’s a bonus, which Johnston talks about in the final pages, is the extremely strong support system that Hermione has. While there are some jerks in her circle *coughleocough*, for the most part they are there to help her and be what she needs from them. Again, really refreshing.
In all honesty, this book reminded me a little of what I wrote in the way the author deals with rape, pregnancy, and abortion. It was a fresh, honest look that didn’t make me want to hide beneath the covers and cry all weekend.