Title: Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Author: E. K. Johnston
Release Date: March 15
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Source: Borrowed from the author
Check this book out on Goodreads.
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 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. (Source: Goodreads)
It’s Hermione’s last year of high school, which means it’s also her last year as a cheerleader. When she goes to cheerleading camp all she wants to do is make the most of it. While she’s at the camp someone slips something in her drink, rapes, and impregnates her. Hermione’s last year in high school will not be what she expected, but she won’t let what’s happened to her take it all away from her.
Prior to reading this I’d never read any of Johnston’s books, even though I know her and maybe I should have read her books and stuff, but I just didn’t think they sounded like books I’d be interested in And then I heard about Exit, Pursued by a Bear. This book is amazing. It is heartbreaking, and moving, and real, and honest, and wonderful. So much of this book just felt honest and realistic, she’s clearly done her research as she shows the real process of living beyond assault, and making the decisions you never imagined you’d have to make.
Hermione is a strong character, unbelievably strong in the face of the most destructive circumstance. She’s paired up well with powerful friends and family, a community who come together to support her after her rape. This of course is not always the case for people in Hermione’s situation but the realism of this community is there. Johnston creates this strong, bonded community whose chemistry is real and alive. I absolutely adored everyone, the parents, the teachers, the pastor, the friends, every single person played such a huge role in making me love this book.
Hermione’s actions after being raped are very trying for the reader, having to deal with the police, having to struggle with the fact that she doesn’t remember, that people are treating her differently, that she’s pregnant, it hurts you so deeply to watch this young woman deal with it all. But she does. Hermione prevails, and she grows stronger, her community grows stronger. She doesn’t let this horrible thing define her either, yes she takes it and makes it part of her, but it never grows to define her. Hermione was raped, but she’s also an outstanding cheerleader, student, leader, daughter, and friend – these are the things that really define her.
I had maybe 2 or 3 issues with things in the book. Some awkward dialogue here and there was minor and nitpicky of me. The one thing I didn’t really like was the plotline of the school curse. I just didn’t think it was necessary, and the weird focus on it felt awkward, out of place, and a little insensitive at times. I don’t know though, maybe it was just me.
Overall, this is a must read for contemporary YA fans. I highly recommend this, though it may be a difficult read for those who have been sexually assaulted.
Have you read Exit, Pursued by a Bear? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
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