Is it possible to love and hate a book at the same time? Because I loved this book SO MUCH. The message was fantastic, but it makes me so mad that this even needs to be said. Before I get into the full review, I want to mention that this book contains the following trigger warnings: rape, animal cruelty, and violence.
“You see it in all animals – the female of the species is more deadly than the male.”
This is the story of Alex, a girl whose sister was brutally assaulted and murdered and has a…broken moral compass. It’s also the story about Peekay, the preachers kid who befriends her, and Jack, the boy who comes to love her.
Alex was honestly one of the most relatable characters I’ve read in a while. Not in the whole murderous tendencies kind of way, but more in the socially awkward, more in love with her books than people kind of way. She gets so much crap thrown at her with her family – an absent, supposedly violent father, a mother who can hardly look at her, and her sister. The sister that started it all, murdered in the woods. So of course she decides to do something about it.
“I live in a world where not being molested as a child is considered luck.”
A lot of what was mentioned in this book were things that I, as a learned, inclusive adult, already know, but maybe a younger audience is aware of in the back of their mind. Through Alex we see how American culture has evolved around rape. People are afraid to report sexual assaults because they don’t want their peers to think they are snitching and so it happens over and over again.
“But boys will be boys, our favorite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll.”
There are so many stereotypes and mindsets that are challenged throughout this book, from the “boys will be boys” mindset, to the girl who wears so much makeup everyone thinks she’s easy but is more than meets the eye, to the boy who, on the surface, seems to have it all but really doesn’t. We see how society treats men and women differently, and the exact scene that the above quote happens in was the one moment where I had to stop and take a moment, because it was so horrible and powerful and true.
It happened to be you, but it could’ve been anyone else. Opportunity is what matters, nothing else. I’m telling you, Claire. It doesn’t matter. What you were wearing. What you look like. Nothing. Watch the nature channel. Predators go for the easy prey.
The messages this book has are it’s strong point. They are uncomfortable to read or listen to, but they are so important for anyone in our current society to hear and discuss. You can’t just ignore that these things are happening and everything this book discusses is a MAJOR issue in today’s society.
“It’s not the sheep that call to me, but the other wolves. I want to run with them, so that I may tear out their throats when they threaten my flock. But I can’t return to the sheep with blood on my breath; they will shy away from me.”
It seems so morbid to call this book amazing given the issues that it discusses, but the way it shows that it isn’t okay to just sit by is the beautiful part of this book. Yes, our MC doesn’t always go about solving her issues in a productive way, but in all honesty, the characters come second to the plot in this book.
While everyone needs to read this book, the one group that needs to read this more than any other are teenagers. There are so many important messages about consent and standing up for yourself that if I had read this book in high school or even younger, certain things that had happened around me may have ended up differently. So please, do yourself a favor and read this book. You will come out stronger and more understanding in the end.