Thursday, April 12, 2018

Exit, Pursued by a Pear by E.K. Johnston.

“I didn't used to overthink my choices quite so much. Then someone made what I've always been told is a very important choice for me, and now I tend to overthink everything else.” 

I have read quite a few YA "issue" books in my day, but I always reach for them. I find many to be diverse and substantial, and when a new title comes out, I'm always interested. 

Exit, Pursued by a Bear caught my attention a couple of times and for various reasons. First, the title is a reference to Shakespeare, which had me sold immediately...before I even knew what the book would be about. I put it on my Goodreads list and promptly forgot about it.

Then, a teacher asked for books to recommend to teens in her alternative high school (as part of a FB group I'm in), and this title was brought up multiple times. It got placed quickly on my Amazon wishlist, and Adam sent it to me as part of a recent book swap. It was then that I learned the book was about a rape and the events that happened afterwards as the main character, Hermione, comes to terms with what to do.

As much as you can say you enjoyed a book about rape, I enjoyed this book. Where Speak was raw and isolating, Exit, Pursued by a Bear gave warmth and comfort. Things are not easy for Hermione by any means, but the support of her family and friends as she copes with the rape (which she doesn't remember-she was drugged), a pregnancy, an abortion (not a spoiler-it happens early), and the investigation to find her rapist. 

It's well done. 

I actually think its harder to find a book for teens where parents are as present as they are in this title. They give support to their daughter as she needs it. She has strong friends who lift her up and guide her. She has a therapist who works to help her gain her memories back. The scene surrounding her time spent in the abortion clinic is powerful and moving and made me set the book aside for a moment...

“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.

Anything, except have a baby.”

Do I think the book is perfect? No, far from it. I have some qualms with the writing style and at times I felt things were a little too "neat." But the premise, the characters, and the way the author constructed a different take on such a severe issue for a YA audience was refreshing and worth reading. The main character Hermione and her friend Polly made me smile with their support and love for one another. It's a title I definitely think students will be drawn to, especially my students who like "issue" titles.

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

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