It Ends With Us

Image result for it ends with us

So I definitely got more than I bargained for with this one! I picked it up off the library shelf on one of my random run-throughs (I was never very good at the whole ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ thing), not expecting to find the book about domestic violence I’ve been searching for. Don’t get me wrong, the first quarter of it totally reads like terribly trashy chic lit, but then it takes a sharp turn into serious issues and really delivers.  The main character, Lily, is an aspiring florist who moved to Boston to escape a life of violence delivered by her father. As a teenager she had helped a homeless boy, Atlas, to survive the winter, and developed a deep-seeded love for him in the process. Years later, Lily runs into Atlas while she is falling in love with the gorgeous neurosurgeon, Ryle (see, that premise is super trashy).  His return into her life throws up issues she hoped never to have to face again… And I won’t reveal more cause I’ll give the game away, but suffice to say, Hoover isn’t afraid to go there. While this is technically adult fiction, the language is straightforward, and I can think of a few older teens who might find it hits just the right note.

No Shame

Image result for no shame ann cassidy

I’ve had a busy week of reading it seems, but I couldn’t resist squeezing this one in – as the sequel to the book which kicked off this whole blog, “No Virgin”, it definitely had to take priority! I actually enjoyed this a lot more than the first book. The writing is still pretty basic, but it deals head on with the realities of a rape trial and I think it should be required reading in schools.  The fact that so many women still have to go through the atrocity of having their sex lives thrown in their faces if they are raped – as if though saying yes to one man is the same as saying yes to all of them – is an outrage.  Novels like this really bring that truth home, and I can’t wait for my students to read it. (According to the response on Facebook, they can’t wait either!)

Rape: A Love Story

Image result for rape a love story

You have to really ask yourself what it means when a colleague leaves a book with a title like this on your desk…  But whatever the subtext, this was a fantastic read and I’m so pleased she shared it with me! While it sounds terrifying (I couldn’t bring myself to start it for a good week), it’s actually so brilliantly put together that it ends up being way more compelling than upsetting. It centres on the gang rape of a mother, and the daughter who witnesses it.  Much of the story is from the young girl’s point of view, including her growing affection for the rebellious cop who goes outside the law to find ways to help the pair get justice. It’s a short, easy read (relatively speaking) and a very difficult book to put down.

Cradle and All

Image result for james patterson cradle YA

It should be known that I am an absolute coward. I had nightmares after the first Harry Potter movie and I still get the heeby jeebies if I so much as think about The Exorcist, a movie I last watched circa 1995.  This is a creepy novel. I knew it when I pulled it off the library shelf, and I certainly knew it when I couldn’t put it down before bed last night.  Needless to say, I slept with the light on. Pathetic. It’s a great read though. It’s about two girls who are claiming to be pregnant virgins, amidst a spate of global health pandemics that are killing thousands of children – it’s a very dark and foreboding setting. The protagonist of the story is a former nun called Anne, who has to help the church figure out which girl is carrying the child of God, and which is carrying the child of the devil.  It’s exactly as weird and full on as you are imagining, but it’s really well-delivered to pack a punch and keep you turning the page (way past bedtime…)!

Milk and Honey

Image result for milk and honey

This is the second incredible book given to me by a student, one I also cannot recommend highly enough.  It is a very easy to read collection of poetry by the Indian-Canadian poet, Rupi Kaur. It contains very short but incredibly insightful pieces that I think will really appeal to young women finding their feet in life and love. It has small snippets like this:

how you love yourself is

how you teach others

to love you

… and slightly longer pieces that tell more of a story. It’s a gorgeous collection and absolutely worth having on the shelf, especially as something accessible to pick up if you’ve got a reluctant reader. Delightful, so thank you my thoughtful students for teaching me something new every day.

All The Rage

Image result for all the rage novel

A student was asking for more stories about survivors of rape last week and this was on a best book list in the last couple of years; I can see why, it’s an intense and darkly drawn story. At the beginning I was confused by what was happening to who and when, but once I realised I had misread the first two pages, the whole thing clicked – and it was amazing! The story opens with the town outcast, Romy, remembering the night a year earlier when she got totally hammered and was raped by a guy she’d had a crush on; no one believed her because he was the town golden boy (the sheriff’s son) and so she lost all her friends as a result. That first page then flicks to the present (which is how I got confused), where Romy once again finds herself broken and beaten, hungover as hell, on the side of a road.  We then go back two weeks to see what was going on in the lead up to Romy ending up in that state. We also meet the town sweetheart, Penny, who it turns out has gone missing the same night Romy was abandoned on the road side.  The book is a gut wrenching, emotional tale of small town power and politics, and how dangerous these can be for vulnerable young women. Definitely worth a read.

After the Fire

Image result for after the fire

Fleur Beale, eat your heart out, cause this book leaves I am not Esther for dead! Also the story of a young woman stuck in a religious cult she does not believe in, this book explores the complicated nature of these communities and how hard it is for people to get out once they’re in.  The central character, Moonbeam, narrates the tale, and we learn pretty quickly that there’s been some sort of fire resulting in the death of most of her fellow residents; the only survivors are a group of children, now living in a psychiatric facility.  The story is totally gripping, with non-stop tension as the author carefully reveals Moonbeam’s story and her role in the cult’s ultimate destruction.  An awesome, sleep-preventing read!