Title: Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Author: E.K. Johnston
Publication: March 15th 2016 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 248 pages
Format: Library book
“I love you,” Polly says suddenly when I’m almost to the door.
“I know,” I say.
Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.
But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined:
Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.
Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.
Heartbreaking and empowering, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the story of transcendent friendship in the face of trauma.
“I love you,” I say, because I really, really do.
“I know,” says Polly.
Shelf it on Goodreads
So here’s the alphabetical run down:
The characters were the strongest feature of this book. As the summary states, this book is about a girl who is raped, and how she copes afterwards.The first 50 pages you get to know Hermione’s life before, the rest of the book is the aftermath, but Johnston does an amazing job of giving her a personality beyond the label. Hermione’s relationship with her best friend Polly is perhaps the best friendship I have seen portrayed in YA fiction recently. Hermione has a strength about her, not because she seems unaffected by what happened, but much the opposite. She faces it honestly and head-on and throughout the book has so much poise about her that you end up with a really deep respect for who she is.
This cover is amazing! Honestly, it is a standout cover to me. I love the colors of the sky and the silhouette of the cheerleader in mid-flight, the arms and hands you can see at the bottom ready to catch her and the placement of the title are just perfect. And the top shoe being white is just the perfect detail. I love good photography, so when you put good photography on the cover of a book it makes me very happy.
This is a niche book, a very good one, but not for everyone. First of all, it takes cheerleading very seriously and it took me a while to accept that and not think certain things were done or said sarcastically. (And I was a cheerleader, but not nearly as serious as these girls!) Also, there are some serious issues addressed that people who have been through a similar experience may not want to read.
Although the writing is very good, the pacing was odd at times. It was a shorter book, not even 250 pages, but there were some details that were dwelled upon and others that were completely left out that I felt like were important. Also, there was not enough closure at the end of the story for me.
“I can corral eighteen hormonal teenagers, however momentarily, into a cohesive group capable of getting ordinary humans to fly.”
“Maybe this would be easier if I acted like I am broken. Then they’ll be able to fix me. You can’t fix something that doesn’t know it’s broken.”
“‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, and all that crap.’
‘Do you ever dream of the day when your life can no longer be adequately summarized by Kelly Clarkson songs?’ I ask.
‘All the time,’ Polly says.”
This is definitely a book that I learned something from, so in that respect, I think others should read it. But for me, there were a few things lacking throughout as well as an unsatisfying ending that lead me to give it three hearts.