Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on March 15, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, contemporary, Social Issues
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher
“I love you,” Polly says suddenly when I’m almost to the door.
“I know,” I say.
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.
Heartbreaking and empowering, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the story of transcendent friendship in the face of trauma.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a young adult contemporary standalone by E.K. Johnston. This is a book impressed me. It takes some hard to handle subject matter, and does a really good job with it. As you can see from the summary, Exit, Pursued by a Bear deals with rape and a resulting pregnancy. This is a topic that is so hit or miss for me. I think it is an important topic, and one that should be talked about but so many times I feel that the book becomes the rape, and the rape is all that anyone can see. It overshadows everything else in favor of the author’s message. And regardless of whether it is well done or not, and regardless of whether I agree with the author’s message or not, it just doesn’t resonate with me. That’s not how I connect with books.
But something about Exit, Pursued by a Bear told me that I should read it. And I am so freakin’ glad that I did. Not only is Exit, Pursued by a Bear superbly written, but this is a book about a girl. And that resonates with me. It was so easy for me to like and connect with Hermione. (not to mention I love her name and I always love the Shakespeare line as the title. I thought it was fitting.) I think Hermione is such a great main character. She is mature beyond her years, she is likable, strong (and not just strong because of what she has had to deal with. She is just a strong person. I think that is an important distinction, and part of why I enjoyed this book so much). The secondary characters in the book are all great as well. I loved the guys on the cheer team (except for Leo, who is a major butthead). I loved Polly too.
The real star of Exit, Pursued by a Bear is author E.K. Johnston’s writing. I was immediately enveloped in Hermione’s world. I need to read more books by her because not only is she really, really talented, but if she was able to take such a serious topic, like rape, and make it feel like something different than all of the other rape books out there was very impressive. My review does not do the book justice. It is something that you need to read and experience for yourself. I will just say this..I am a fan of this author and this book.