Hermione is at the top of the high school food chain. She’s popular, she’s dating one of the hottest guys in grade 12, and she’s a cheerleader. And in a small town where the sports teams repeatedly lose, cheerleading is a big deal. She’s ready to have the best senior year ever, until someone slips something in her drink at camp. The next thing she knows she’s waking up in a hospital bed and her best friend delivers the bad news–she was raped. Now Hermione has a new label. Instead of “queen bee” or “cheerleader co-captain” she’s “that raped girl”. And in a small town, that’s a label that’s going to stick.
This is not my typical book. I usually steer clear of anything that deals with tough issues that are going to make me sad. I appreciate that that kind of thing is available, but I am not usually in the mood to read that kind of thing. That being said, this book felt too important to pass up. This is not like anything I’ve ever had to deal with, but Johnston does such a good job making Hermione likable and it almost feels like her group of friends is also your group of friends too.
I loved that Johnston made this story feel real. It could be really easy to have characters react in predictably Hollywood ways, but I feel like each character had a raw and honest reaction to Hermione’s sexual assault including Hermione herself. I love that she had so many supporting people surrounding her from her parents, to her best friend Polly, to her teammates, to her coach. In an author’s note at the end, Johnston recognizes that in this way she did write about an ideal situation where the victim has a lot of support and cooperative and respectful police officers involved in the investigation–she notes that this is not usually the case. However, she does say that she purposefully gave Hermione a Polly (who is AWESOME by the way) and that she believes there is a Polly out there for all victims of sexual assault.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book but just be conscious that it deals with a really heavy topic and may not be suitable for younger readers. That being said, the relationship between Hermione and Polly is one of the best I’ve ever read and in the end the main feeling I get from this book isn’t sadness, but triumph.
Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate. A couple of scenes with brief, strong language.
Sexual Content: Heavy. Due to the overall subject matter, but not explicit.