Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in a brave and unforgettable YA heroine whose story will inspire and provoke.
Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don't cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a small town. The team's summer training camp is Hermione's last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.
In every class, there's a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They're never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she's always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The rape wasn't the beginning of Hermione Winter's story and she's not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.
Kindle Edition, 254 pages
Published March 15th 2016 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Four stars: A story that showcases bravery, grit as well as love and support in the aftermath of rape.
Hermione Winters is pumped and a bit nostalgic as she begins her last stint at summer cheer camp. It is going to be an unforgettable senior year. It will be a year of adventure and new beginnings. The two weeks buzz by, filled with cheering and friends. Then the unthinkable happens. At a dance, Hermione is handed a glass of punch. She blacks out and comes to in the hospital. She learns she was drugged, raped and left in the lake. Her plans for the year are irrevocably changed. Can Hermione rise above the brutal act of violence and reach her dreams?
What I Liked:
- Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a book that takes on the brutal subject of rape, yet this isn't like all the other rape books you have read. I appreciated that this book wasn't all about despair, shame, breakdowns and so forth. Instead, this is a story that showcases friends, family, love, support and incredible courage and strength in the face of an ugly crime. This is a book I urge you to read and discuss with young girls.
- Hermione is an amazing main character. Before the rape, she is a beautiful, confident cheerleader who is excited about her future. Afterwards, she is strong, courageous and unwilling to let people whisper about her. Nor will she let what happened define her and her future. She stands up for herself, refusing to let others shame and blame her, and she will not be branded with the label: raped girl. I loved her strength and her formidable spirit. Yes, there are plenty of times when she falters and she breaks, but it never shatters her. I also loved that she was driven, and that she was constantly proving that she wasn't a dumb cheerleader. I loved this character.
- This book features a constant loving support system. Hermione is always getting encouragement and love from everyone, especially her best friend Polly. If only we could all have a best friend like Polly. She is fierce, protective and willing to do about anything to protect her best friend, Hermione. Along with Polly, Hermione has the care and love of her parents, as well as support from her cheerleading teammates, her pastor, coach and even the policewoman handling her case. Her psychiatrist was amazing, loved him! It was refreshing to see so many people bolster Hermione.
- This book doesn't hesitate to take on the tough stuff. There is, of course, the rape, which is horrible, and then all the aftermath. I won't go into all the details to avoid spoilers, but since it is shared in the synopsis, I can tell you that Hermione becomes pregnant. I appreciated how the author handled the whole pregnancy issue, and how she walked the reader through Hermione's choices. I thought it was handled beautifully, and I thought the author did an excellent job with the material. This is a book I urge you to read and discuss with the young women in your life.
- Finally, big props to Ms. Johnson for including all the resource websites and helpful information at the end for anyone who might be dealing with rape. I love when authors take time to include this vital information.
And Not So Much:
- I was so disappointed that the book ended on a cliffhanger note. Yes, it ends at a high point, and I was certain that Hermione would be okay, but I was wanting to see the aftermath. I can't tell you all the details, but I will say, it ends at a big, important moment in the story. I needed more.
- Even though I loved that this book tried to focus on the more positive rather, I felt like at times it was just glossing the surface. I wanted to dig deeper and get beneath the surface. I can't quite put into words, but I felt like something was missing. I wanted more detail and depth, especially at the end.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a must read, thought provoking book that takes another look at rape and the aftermath. This book is different in that the survivor is surrounded by a strong support system. Even though it is more positive, there are plenty of tough issues explored and exposed. This is a book that I think every teenager should read and discuss.
I borrowed a copy of this book from the library. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.