E.K. Johnston - Exit, Pursued By A BearPublished: March 15, 2016 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Find on: Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads
Rating: 5/5 (!!!!!!!!)
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.
~This broke me in the best way.
Hermione Winters (yes, you heard right) (yes, as in Harry Potter) is co-captain of the cheerleading squad with her best friend, Polly. Summers are spent routinely at the lake with the other cheerleaders and football players. Obviously, it's fun. Hermione has a blast with her best friends. Although, her boyfriend, Leo, is a hanger-on, he doesn't delay her in the slightest. Until she attends a party with her friends, her drink is spiked, and she is sexually assaulted by a complete stranger.
Hermione remembers nothing. She was mostly unconscious during the ordeal, but in the incoming weeks are . Everyone approaches her like she's a porcelain doll. Hermione's support system is phenomenal. Her best friend, Polly, never leaves her side. Her parents are completely understanding. Even the conversation with the local clergyman is touching.
I'm so glad Johnston smashed the trope of the brainless cheerleader. This book also explains the dynamic of cheerleading. Literally, I thought I could be a cheerleader. It's basically gymnastics. Back in the day, I wanted to be. Not trying to put myself or anyone down, but I think you need to maintain Gwen Stefani-esque abs for it, you know.
If I can complain about anything (I decided to keep my rating because I truly adore this book), Polly is brutally honest. Like, cringe-worthy honest. Considering what Hermione had been through, I thought she could've been a little more sympathetic.
I hadn't wanted to read this book because I hate eccentric names. Okay, this is just me, but I would never name my child after something "bookish." Like, if my friend were to approach and be all: "Meet my daughter, Isabella!" Which is a name I adore, ironically. I would automatically think of Bella Swan. Hermione does say her father was into Harry Potter, but still. Don't do that. It's weird. It's like naming your child Renesmee.
I finished this book in one sitting. It's so enthralling and empowering, I was a little surprised. I cried and laughed and awed and admired the grand friendship of Polly/Hermione. Totally, totally worth the read!