Review: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston

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June 27, 2016 by Zoë

Hermione Winters, co-captain of her school’s cheerleading team, is all set for a great year. Then, at cheer camp, someone slips a date rape drug in her drink and rapes her. She can’t remember who it was—it could have been anyone, even one of the boys on her team. Now, instead of just being able to focus on cheerleading she has to put the pieces back together after her rape.

This novel might sound a bit overdramatic and/or trite. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot out of it, but I was interested in reading it because it’s a retelling of The Winter’s Tale. As it turns out, it was neither overdramatic nor trite. It was actually really, really good, dealing with rape in a sympathetic and nuanced manner. Hermione’s case is perhaps a bit easier to deal with because it was very clearly rape, but nevertheless she still has to deal with rumors and hard decisions, all of which were portrayed realistically, if also hopefully.

Somewhat randomly, the book is also full of Star Wars quotations, a little quirk that I quite enjoyed. This book isn’t all gloom and doom, despite the serious subject matter. Could it have been more nuanced? Maybe a little bit, but ultimately the point of this book was to illustrate that rape is not at all the fault of the victim, as well as to show that it’s important to be supportive of someone who has been raped. And as trite as that message sound, it came across really well in this book. Bonus points for a lesbian best friend.

“I think of the looks I’ve been getting at the grocery store, and take a deep breath. ‘Please don’t ask people to pray for me.’”

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