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Book Reports (59-61)...

For those of you who happened to Google your title and ended up here, please know that one star is not a bad thing in Robin's world -- just the fact that I picked up your book and started it means that somewhere it's getting good buzz (or that your blurb was really cool).

* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.

This year, I'm only going to list the stars and a brief recommendation for the type of readers I think will enjoy the book [(R) means it's a re-read; [] means it's an ARC].



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These deal with more mature teen subjects -- all three are different takes on rape and the consequences to society, to the individual, and to the future of the victim.

***
Exit, Pursued by a Bear, by E.K. Johnston -- recommended for those who like realistic teen drama, those who like cheerleading, and those who like reading about *rape recovery -- Dutton BFYR, 3/16

****
Firsts, by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn -- recommended for those who are okay with graphic sexual talk and actions, those who don't mind **confused teens with no adult help, and those who want to think about the different sexual pressure/expectations on girls and boys in today's society -- St. Martin's Griffin, 1/16

*****
[Wrecked, by Maria Padian -- highly recommended for those who like a thoughtful look at the role of alcohol in sexual actions and consent, those who like ***complex situations with no clear right or wrong, those who like multi-POV, and those who like wise and honest narrators -- Algonquin Young Readers, 10/16]

* I actually skimmed this while standing in the library. I think it's well done, and the MC here is a fighter. She works through the trauma which comes from rape in combination with a 'date rape' drug -- which means she doesn't really remember anything that happened to her but still has flash-backs and panic attacks from triggers because of the mental, emotional, and physical trauma. There's also abortion/pregnancy issues here, so be warned if any of the above trigger readers.

** This stayed with me for a couple of reasons: 1) it's a thought-provoking look at the vast differences between sexual expectations for teen boys and girls (warning: it's pretty infuriating, but sadly, I think it's fairly accurate); and 2) the underlying story of the MC's past sexual experiences which are never completely acknowledged (even by the MC) but which clearly lead to her current actions. I finished the book frustrated about both, and I couldn't stop thinking about how I would've handled the ending differently (as a writer) and also how I'd react if I saw something like this happening in my kids' school. This is very graphic in many ways, and I wouldn't let my 12-year-old daughter read it yet...in fact, I'd probably wait at least 3 or 4 years before giving her a book with this level of graphic language around sex coupled with the MC's issues (often un-acknowledged) around intimacy.

*** This is so well written, imo. The author takes us through a case of supposed sexual assault from 3 POVs -- what actually happened (as if the camera follows around the accuser and the accused), the roommate of the victim (the accuser), and a house mate of the accused. It really pointed out how sexual assault and consent can be so complicated and difficult to discern. When I finished, all I could think was how the message to high school and college students -- male and female -- should be that alcohol is the true rapist. This is more about what constitutes consent and how different players in the game react than it is about the act itself.

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