Exit, Pursued by a Bear By E. K. Johnston
“It’s cheer camp. What’s the worst that can happen.”
TRIGGER WARNING – RAPE
I can see already that the pick for my first book could be one of the most controversial. It has everything that would leave my grandmother clutching her purse…. lesbian and gay characters, a sexual assault and then free use of the word rape, and some other events that are even more jaw dropping (but I don’t want to give away the story). People are going to either love or hate this book, and that is totally OK. The real strength of this book is that it not only tells the victims story, but everyone else that is affected by it too. It is so important as people that we realize that our actions are like ripples in a pond, and they reach out and touch everyone within distance.
As you follow Hermione through cheer camp, the author gives us a good feel of what its like to be a teenager again, perhaps in a totally different environment than what you were used to in high school.
Things that I loved about this book
- Without giving too much away, I must say that I love Hermione because she is a woman of her convictions and won’t let others tell her what she should do, or how she should feel
- It is also a story about friendship. Strong friendships are based on acceptance of one another, and Hermione and Polly don’t disappoint here.
- It’s a super quick read!
- The picture on the cover! It’s not just a cheer leading picture, but one of Hermione’s favorite moves, and when she gracefully tells you why, you can see why it’s almost a metaphor for the whole book.
- At first when I was reading it I thought that I had lost my mind. This girl has the most amazing support system from the beginning to end (aside from her totally weird acting boyfriend, but I have my own ideas about that). The doctors, police, coaches, teammates, not one person is rude or shames her in the least. When you get to the end of the book though the author makes an acknowledgment that this is rarely the case.
- There are things that happen to Hermione and decisions that she has to make that may not agree with you. That’s ok, this is her story.
- It’s sooooo teen. And that’s not a bad thing but it is something to remember. You can practically break out with acne because of the teen angst rising up at times.
- It’s very predictable, all the way up to the end. She keeps you guessing on the identity of the attacker, but otherwise you know exactly what is going to happen before it happens. That is ok though because this is a story that needs to be told, and others need to listen.
I wanted to talk about the title for a minute in case anyone was curious. I had no idea what it meant until I Googled it and saw that it is a famous stage direction from Shakespeare’s play A Winter’s Tale…(Hermione Winters???) In it the Queen (((Hermione))) has her own public shaming about sexual indiscretions (that were untrue) and even gave birth while imprisoned. If you would like to read more about this story you can click here.
The Final Verdict: The situations that this girl is put into and the choices that she has to make in the duration of the story are enough to make the adultiest adult want to run and hide. This book was wonderful, however, because Hermione refused to be victimized by her attacker. I can understand why many man not want to spend time thinking about these issues, they make us uncomfortable, make us confront our own morality and think about what we would do in those situations if it were us, our sons, our daughters. I think that this is an important book for young people to read, to put themselves in a victims shoes and see that the reach of their actions is much farther then a few moments.