Single Sundays: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E K Johnston

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Exit, Pursued by a Bear (from Goodreads):

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.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: E K Johnston
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Shakespeare nut so anything that links back to the Bard has my full attention. Arguably one of the best stage directions of all time comes from The Winter’s Tale and it is the title of this book. While I didn’t love the last (and only other) E K Johnston book I read, the subject matter of this one is vastly different so I went in with an open mind.

The Concept / The World:

I studied The Winter’s Tale in University, I’ve seen the play and the ballet version of it so I’m fairly familiar with it all. But other than the fact that her name is Herimone, I didn’t really see all the allusions that I wanted to. Perhaps it has been a long time since I read the play so I missed stuff.

What I will say: it was super cool to–literally–have a book set in my neck of the woods. Most of the books I read take place in the United States with the rare book that takes place in Toronto. But this takes place in rural Ontario which is where I am from so that was pretty neat.

The Plot:

There are a lot of positives to how this book handles the various topics it brings up. Compared to some other novels I’ve read in the past, Herimone definitely has a different reaction to her situation, though that doesn’t make it any less valid. In some ways it was refreshing to be reminded that everyone handles a trauma differently.

But in some ways, for a book that is grounded in realism, I thought things fell into place just a little too easily for everyone. Or perhaps I’m just not convinced that the way it ended was the right way for the story to wrap-up.

The Characters:

Like I said, Herimone wasn’t what I expected given the subject matter but good on E K Johnston for showing a different heroine. She definitely didn’t fit in a neat little box like she’s billed as when you first meet her at cheerleader camp.

What I also really liked is that there was a great emphasis on friendships and how they can evolve after it affects a member of the group. It’s a ripple effect when a sexual assault happens and I think we sometimes forget about that.

My Audiobook Experience:

If you are someone who struggles with capturing emotion through written text alone, definitely get the audiobook. It’s a short listen but definitely packs a punch!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you are someone who is sensitive to rape and/or sexual assaults in novels, use discretion when picking this up. But I think this is a great read to remind people that trauma affects everyone in different ways and it isn’t afraid to talk about the various components and aftermath with candour.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction
Avoid if You: are triggered by sexual assaults in novels

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