One of the hazards of reading lots of books is that I tend to end up with high standards and I tend to discard a lot of books because it just feels like I have read them before - and it takes a very special book to stand out from the crowd. The way I used to be is one of those rare books that I not only read cover to cover, but where the characters have stuck around in my head because I felt such a strong connection to the them. Eden is the clearest voice, but her friends are also there, asking to be heard, while her family mumbles in the background. What happened to Eden was shocking not just because it happened to her, but also because statistics in New Zealand at least show that about 35% of all girls under the age of 16 experience rape - that is roughly one in three girls under the age of 16 experiencing a life changing and traumatic event.
The thing about Eden's story that makes it so extraordinary is that she is so ordinary - Eden could be any one of thousands of teenage girls around the world who is finding her way while carrying a crushing secret. This is not a rapid leap into a life of reckless behaviour, it is a slow and graceless slide as Eden's life and choices are made through the lens of a traumatic event that clearly stays with her through the four years of high school. I became rather attached to Eden through reading her story, and while I have not shied away from reading books about rape for teenagers this was the first book that took such a long term story arc, and it is only through such a long story arc that you can truly see the damage Kevin did, and the danger of keeping rape a secret.
I would highly recommend that teenage girls read this novel because there is a high chance that they or one of their friends will expreience rape at high school or in their first years of college - for girls who have been raped Eden's story may give them the courage to come forward and lay charges against their rapist, and for girls who have not been raped it may help them understand changes in their friends and encourage them to offer support for friends who have been raped. A powerful and emotional read because Eden could be any teenage girl, and it was a story that needed to be told without fanfare or excess. An amazing debut novel that every teenage girl and her parents need to read.
If you read this book and would like to read similar books then try:
- Speechless by Hannah Harrington
- Lies we tell ourselves by Robin Talley
- Such a pretty girl by Laura Wiess
- Hate list by Jennifer Brown
- Living dead girl by Elizabeth Scott
- Sold by Patricia McCormick
- Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher
- Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
- Rape girl by Alina Klein
- Thousand words by Jennifer Brown
- I swear by Lane Davis
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
- The mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Reviewed by Brilla