Plot: Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine.
Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of… she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.
In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.
This book is in no way, at all, by ANY means, similar to Veronica Mars or William Shakespeare.
To the person who wrote this book description, did you even read this book?
I was really hoping this book was going to be like open-heart surgery: a precise slice between 2 to 4 inches, an intricate unweaving of my measly little “feeling” strings and an eventual severe, yet purposeful, yanking on my heart like it was a sled delivering presents on Christmas eve.
I didn’t feel much at all.
I had so many readers recommend this book to me after I read The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith, because I was wailing and shrieking about it for months afterwards – and to be honest, I still am. I waited months to actually read this because I knew I would have to set a night aside and really prepare myself for the roller coaster of emotions I was about to feel! With my tissues, tea and emergency cookies on standby- I dove in!
But what I got was…blah.
I am obviously not one of those readers that gives a book a stellar review just because it touches on an important issue. I respect the author for giving sexual assault victims a voice, and for trying to show another version of how the victims and their loved ones are affected by truly terrible crimes like this. I found a lot of positives in this story by way of strong friendships and fierce loyalty, the confusion of how/what to feel when you’ve been assaulted but cannot remember, and the various ways that one’s peers and community reacts.
But I think what really made it hard for me to connect to this story, was the lack of depth in this story. Exit is a “shallow end” version of YA Contemporary/Coming-of-age fiction about rape. It gives you the characters and the facts of what happened before and after the assault, but it only just brushes the surface of the emotional significance that comes with such a horrific crime.
The main character felt very one-dimensional and stiff. She didn’t seem to EVER feel much of anything about what happened to her, and was more worried about her cheer team then the fact that she was raped…? I’m all for moving on and not letting things get you down, but come on! This girl is a teenager. A hormonal, emotional, hard-to-think-rationally teenager! How is she so put together and mature about this situation the ENTIRE book? It feels like lazy writing. Instead of the author really getting in touch with the emotional trauma and how Hermione was coping with the events, she barely stuck a toe into the water and simply told the reader emotions rather than presented them.
There wasn’t anything really special about this book, and I kept finding myself waiting for a big moment of TRUE emotion that unfortunately never ended up coming. The only true gem of this story was Hermione’s best friend Polly. Polly is a really well-crafted, beautiful, strong and detailed character! She is the strength and rock in Hermione’s life, and apparently the only one that is stricken with the events that take place. I almost wish Exit would have focused more on Polly and HER views on the situation as she helped her friend through her assault. It would have been a different viewpoint, and maybe would have given me the feeling and truth that I was looking for.
I think this book would be more suitable for a younger audience, due to its non-graphic and modest approach. I think this could be a decent introductory story to sexual assault if Speak or The Way I Used to Be seemed a little too heavy. But for me, I was left feeling a little empty and unsatisfied with this book.