Title: Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Author: E.K. Johnston
Genre: Realistic Contemporary
Publication Date: March 15 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE and ABORTION DISCUSSION
“Of course, if I were dead, they could just bury me, and move on. Broken is harder to deal with.”
Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine. Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black. In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale. – Excerpt from Goodreads.
Wow, I didn’t expect this book to have a ton going for it. I have to admit that I bought it based on the title – how cool is it? Nope, not a cover buy! A title buy! Is that even thing? Now it is!
I read this a few days ago and I still don’t know how I feel about everything. The book was very good and had a mystery that I didn’t figure out – I was suspicious of everyone. I won’t say who the culprit is because I don’t want to ruin things and this isn’t the main focus of the book and I loved that.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear really focuses on the survivor and the aftermath of the rape. I was happy to see a book not just focusing on who did it and why since at the end of the day, the survivor matters and the offender does not. Our lead female protagonist is named Hermione- yes her parents were Potter fans! Already a check for this character. How can I not love someone named after one of my favorite Potter characters? Impossible. This might not be the kind of girl that you would at first root for. She’s popular, ambitious and a cheerleader to top it off! So, yeah – this might have been a girl you went to school with and possibly resented. However, the author manages to make this girl relatable to the average person. She’s just a girl who is working very hard at cheerleading. She is pretty and popular but that she’s an all-around nice person. She has a boyfriend that she is only slightly interested in and far from boy-crazy. I really dug this character a lot.
Her best friend, Polly is also very ambitious but she is more a smart-ass and has a tougher exterior. However, she is a fierce friend and any of us could only be so lucky as to have someone like her in our lives. Just love her! I liked that she didn’t sugarcoat everything but she was never mean – just honest, but always 100% supportive.
As the book synopsis says, Hermione is sexually assaulted at a party and left for dead. She lives through the ordeal but can’t remember anything about the rape, and she isn’t really sure she wants to remember. The sexual assault doesn’t go into really graphic details, since she can’t really remember the crime. However, there is certainly enough there for someone to be triggered so read with caution. Hermione finds out she is pregnant shortly after and is devastated. She explores her options and I won’t say what decision she ends up coming to. You have to read the book for that!
I will say that I thought everything was handled realistically and well. I am not a religious person myself but I have to say that I loved the Priest she goes and sees about the issue. We normally see very judgemental and harsh people when it comes to religious people in literature. I liked that he was kind and understanding, while not being unrealistic. I thought it was a nice change and at no time was it even remotely preachy. It felt honest to me.
I also though the topic of abortion was very well handled and I respected the author a great deal for how she wrote about it. I honestly felt like I was right there with Hermione and nervous about her decision for herself.
Last thing I want to note is that this book is Canadian! Being a Canadian myself, I’m always excited to support Canadian authors. Go Canada! It’s fun seeing places names that you recognize.
Overall, a great book if you enjoy realistic contemporary reads. The title alone is worth the buy lol!