Tuesday 21 June 2016

#Review: EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR by E.K. Johnston


“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, 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 Olivier’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. 
Author: E.K. Johnston
Source: Purchased from Chapters
Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Reader
Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Rating: 5 stars
"Today, everything is ours if we want it."
"Yes," I tell her. "It is."
Warning: This book deals with rape. In a VERY EXCELLENT WAY, but it is still there. So please be careful if you are triggered by this before reading this book and my review.

Man, this was a tough read. It was a one chapter at a time one because I had to emotionally prepare myself for what could potentially come next. Because even though this was handled so so so perfectly, it was still so so so hard to read about. I loved how sensitive to the topic this was but also how honest it was as well.

I loved that instead of spiraling out of control, Hermione took control of her life in a different way. I enjoyed seeing how she coped with the aftermath because everyone is different but that doesn't mean anyone's reactions are less valid than any other. And I think that even though she put on a brave face, she was still able to acknowledge that she was different -- and not by her choice. She was so strong and fierce, especially when given tough choices and having to make very adult decisions at 17. She never let this get in her way though, and instead of being victim or taking the labels that people gave her, Hermione made one of her own for herself.

I also really liked the positive portrayal of therapy in this one. I liked that Hermione acknowledges that she trusts her therapist wholeheartedly. Because she takes his advice, knows she can contact him when she's having problems, and still wants to reach out to him. I liked that instead of the typical portrayals of therapy, we got one that is what really, truly happens. I think that Hermione's character and her ability to open up was part of the reason that it worked so well, but it was nice to see a character who was so adamant about having a therapist that would work for their problems in a YA novel. It was also so great to see real panic attacks, PTSD, and dissociation shown in this novel as well. Not everyone experiences these things in the same way, but having Hermione explain her feelings and her thoughts made it so easy to relate to her -- even if you haven't been in the same situation.

I loved Hermione's relationship with everyone around her, especially Polly. I loved their friendship and how they were both willing to go the extra mile for one another. I liked that this event was looked at through the lens of how it affected everyone in Hermione's life, but that she made a point of saying that she shouldn't have to hide her feelings just to make someone else feel better. And I loved that she didn't want to be the reason for someone to have some "character growth" to become a better person: she wanted people to treat her the same as everyone else.

Mostly what EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR gives you is another Hermione that all young girls can relate to: smart, tough, and having to make hard decisions but doing them anyway and being the better person for it.

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