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Ratings and Book Reviews (4 21 star ratings
4 reviews

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4.4 out of 5
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  • 4 person found this review helpful

    4 people found this review helpful

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    Tough Issue but Great Book

    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 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. This is a must read for everyone, but especially teen girls. 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.
  • 2 person found this review helpful

    2 people found this review helpful

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    Beautifully told.

    This book made my heart feel suspiciously like it was going to implode, in the very best way possible. Having read E. K. Johnston's A Thousand Nights, I already knew she was a masterful writer. And once again, she weaves a powerful spell in this contemporary tale that is nothing like A Thousand Nights and yet just as brilliantly evocative. This is not necessarily a book about a girl who was raped. It is a book about a girl who was raped but had an amazing support system that enabled her to overcome the experience. And I think that is the most important takeaway here. There are thousands of rape stories, and millions more occurring in real life. And tragically, only a few of those stories feature a support system like Hermione has. Hermione doesn't recall anything about her rape or her rapist. She hdd been drugged during a dance at a cheer camp in the summer. Over the course of the novel, she struggles to recall something, anything, about those harrowing lost hours of her life that changed everything. No longer is the world a safe place. Anyone could have been her attacker...even one of her own male teammates. As Hermione struggles to maintain a semblance of normal life, she's got some awful consequences to deal with. This book handles the aftermath of sexual assault in a beautifully poignant way. I realize very slowly that my father is not hugging me. He is standing in the middle of the living room, staring at my mother and me, but not making any mov to join us. At first I think he is helping Poily. It is a new carpet after all. But he's not helping Pollu. He's just standing there, looking at me. [Excerpt] I return his stare, confused, until he looks away. And then I know. He's afraid. He's afraid that if he touches me, I'll forget that he's my dad. That he's the one who dug the pit for my trampoline and installed all he mats after all those safety reports got released. That he's the first person who ever threw me up into the air and caught me. That he's the one who taught me to drive and do a cartwheel and catch a football and stand on my head. He's afraid that if he touches me, I'll forget that he's my dad, not my rapist. [end of excerpt] I may have cried a little at that point. The book addresses the psychological aftereffects of rape beautifully. Hermione's mindset undergoes significant changes. The world is a strange, shadowy place to her now. She catches herself thinking cynically of everyone around her. She finds herself extra wary of every new situation she is ever in. Are there exits? Does she have an escape route handy? People see her differently. She is "the raped girl", and she is determined that will not be her legacy. People also, inexplicably, seem to find their better sides around her too, and this doesn't make her entirely happy. She does not want her rape to be the thing that changed someone's life or made them be a better person. And it's a selfish thought, which she acknowledges. As a protagonist, Hermione is ambivalent and contradictory and wonderfully flawed. The support system behind Hermione is everything. The side-characters in this book play s much of a role in her recovery as she does. Her best friend Polly is a warrior princess and Hermione's staunchest defender. Polly refuses to let Hermione blame herself, or to let anyone else blame her, and openly addresses what happened in a blunt way, instead of skittering around the word "rape". She forces Hermione to come to terms with what she went through instead of building up a fear for the word itself, and in turn, a fear of the world around her. And when Hermione has to face the typical bullshit "what could you have done to prevent this happening to you?" Polly is right there to defend her. Hermione's parents have to work to understand her new circumstances, because, as Hermione puts it, she herself might be broken, but she has also broken her parents. They don't know how to treat her. Initially they tiptoe on eggshells, afraid of triggering her, but that's no way to live in your own home. Over time, they too overcome the trauma of having something awful happen to their only child. Similarly, Hermione's cheerleading team comes together in a way they never did before, to support her though panic attacks and awful days in school where she must withstand the whispers of everyone around her. Of course, Hermione's story isn't the norm. Far from it, in fact. Most rape survivors are isolated and slut-shamed and, worse, not believed at all. But it's important that stories like hers exist, to illustrate just how differently things can go if a survivor has a community like Hermione's behind her, that believes and supports her in the aftermath of trauma. Sexual assault is horrific enough, but what comes after that can be a gamechanger in terms of recovery. TLDR: Beautifully told, and surprisingly uplifting considering its subject matter. Must read.
  • 2 person found this review helpful

    2 people found this review helpful

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    A Story That Deserves To Be Read

    Actual Rating 3.5 Stars Before I begin: Books about rape or any kind of sexual abuse are VERY VERY important reads to me because I live in a culture where victim blaming is widespread and girls don’t speak up for the most part when they are violated. When I heard about Exit, Pursued by a Bear, more than a year ago I knew I would read it at some point or the other. It had a story that involved rape that hasn’t been handled before specifically one involving pregnancy, the head cheerleader and a date rape drug. And so, when I picked it up two days ago, I was very excited. The book had its plus points and its drawbacks but let’s break them down: WHAT I LIKED: 1. NO VICTIM BLAMING: I wanted to applaud this book when it didn’t go through the whole “the girl was asking for it,” arc because THERE SHOULDN’T BE A QUESTION ABOUT THIS. Nobody who has ever been raped has asked for it and NO MEANS NO. The one time it did come up, it was handled positively and I loved it. I wish the world didn’t victim blame and this aspect of the book made me very happy. 2. STRONG FRIENDS = STRONG SUPPORT SYSTEM: Another thing was that all of Hermoine’s friends didn’t magically abandon her but STUCK WITH HER at all times, supported her and they were just there for her. Exit, Pursued by a Bear broke the stereotype of “catty” cheerleaders and showed that these cheer teammates and friends were true friends and also a support system for Hermoine. WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: 1. THE LACK OF EMOTION IN THE WRITING: Hermoine was raped after the she was given a date rape drug. She was left in a lake to die until she was found. It’s gruesome, it’s horrible that a human could have the capability to do that. I felt violated sitting in the confines of my room but I NEVER felt it from Hermoine. She actually addresses it too – the fact that she couldn’t remember the rape and hence didn’t feel like it happened to her but some other girl WHICH I UNDERSTAND, and it’s definitely a new perspective but it all felt so mechanical to me. I feel like a little more emotion in the WRITING of Hermoine could have gone a long way in this book. 2. THE BOYFRIEND: Leon McKenna was a POINTLESS character. They were never really serious, it was as if he just existed to create some unnecessary drama. I didn’t understand their relationship while they were together, I didn’t get the reason for his jealousy because it was mentioned briefly in hindsight and I DEFINITELY DIDN’T UNDERSTAND how he could tell people those things about Hermoine. REALLY? I could never say this was a bad book – it’s a good story that handles a very important topic. I could never not recommend this book – we should all be reading these books to understand and grow as human beings. So pick up Exit, Pursued by a Bear, or pick up Patty Blount’s Some Boys or Louise O’Neill’s Asking for It – they deserve to be read. The characters are fictional but their stories happen every day to boys and girl around the world. Go read this book. It deserves to be read. These stories need to be heard.
  • 0 person found this review helpful

    0 people found this review helpful

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    Great book!

    I thought Exit, Persued by a Bear was a really good book! Although it deals with rape, Johnson manages to include funny moments and happy scenes. The characters are all well described and thought our

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