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


I think I need to start out by saying one thing: this book shouldn't exist. This book shouldn't have needed to be written. We shouldn't live in a society where sexual assault happens so often that news stories and novels about it are commonplace. I will never like that--and I shouldn't have to accept it. But what I appreciate is that these books do exist, because they need to be told, listened to, and understood. I refuse to let these novels and this issue not get the attention they deserve.

This was an almost perfectly executed novel. It's an assault that isn't often told: by a victim who doesn't remember. All stories of sexual assault are important, and we need to be aware that all kinds exist.

Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.

But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined:Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.

Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.

Hermione was an incredible character. She didn't remember what had happened to her, so she sometimes grieved like a victim, but often, it felt like she never experienced it at all. Like she was being told a story about this happening to someone else. It's a survivor's story that I hadn't read before, and it was fascinating and terrifying every single page.

Hermione was strong, and wanted to move past her assault. She didn't want to be a victim, and she didn't often feel like one. But she was a survivor, and I am so honored to have lived inside her head. She was relatable and believable and honest to her core.

There wasn't a romance in this story for obvious reasons, but the other relationships in this story shined. Especially the depiction of female friendship between Hermione and Polly. They a unique relationship balance of understanding and normalcy surrounding an event that should be either of those things. Their bond was so eloquently executed; a friendship that most people would die for. It also showed a real and honest relationship with Hermione's parents. They were so worried and so overbearing like parents should be in this situation, but they stood by her and helped her in any way that they could. Hermione's support system was incredible, and written incredibly as well. Not all survivors are lucky enough have what Hermione had, and this book did not take advantage of that fact.

One of the things I loved most about this novel was the writing. And it was because the writing was so...graphic. It didn't flourish on anything, and it didn't hide any of the difficult parts. It didn't skip the details that could push some people to be outraged about the content. It wrote everything clearly, with no forced opinion. It was magnificent. And I cried. Of course I cried. How could I not cry with this story, and how well it was depicted? It was heartbreakingly honest, which is necessary in a novel about sexual assault.

I think everyone should read this book. It hurts and it's hard to read at times, but it is important and it is honest. It's a novel that needs to be seen and read and recognized, because it could help so many understand, learn and maybe find hope.

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  1. I agree, books like this should not need to exist, but given the current climate -- and I'm so sad I have to say that part -- I am grateful they do. Especially when they're told realistically, with strong relationships and especially parents playing an important part. They often don't in YA I think. Great review,it's going on my TBR.

    1. You should definitely put it on your TBR. It's really powerful and really realistic.


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