Minor spoilers ahead. Also, trigger warning for both of these books.
Normally, I stay away from books with rape scenes. They’re often gratuitous. They make me uncomfortable. I read fiction for escape, and I like to escape to a happy place. That being said, if a book about rape is done in the right way, it can be an incredibly great read. Imagine my surprise when I realized I was reading and enjoying two books that deal with girls being raped.
The first was the one in my featured image and one which I am sure you have heard of, and that is The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. This book is exactly the type of book that I would never pick up on my own and would likely sneer at in the bookstore (In fact, I think I did sneer at this one). But my best friend recommended it and told me it was amazing, so I bought a copy. I am extremely picky and thought I wouldn’t like it because of the genre, and my experience is a prime example of why we should all step out of our reading comfort zones every once in a while. I loved this novel. It was done so well, and I was hooked from the beginning. There was one point, which I won’t specify because even though I gave a spoiler warning I don’t want to wreck big parts of the book because only b-holes do that, that I felt Sebold stepped out of the reality she created and made suspension of disbelief very hard for me because the scene didn’t seem to fit her reality as she built it in the book. However, it wasn’t completely crazy either and was easily forgiven because of all the other awesomeness around it. The Lovely Bones was beautifully written, and every page was deeply emotive. I am so grateful that my best friend recommended it and was reminded that I should listen to her always. When I was finished with the book, I immediately texted her to let her know I loved it, and then I gave the book to my mother to read. If I had a copy to give you, I would. Sadly I can’t, so I just send you away with my recommendation that you read it.
The second book is by E.K. Johnston, and it’s called Exit, Pursued by a Bear. Any Shakespeare fan can guess why this title caught my attention. For you non-Shakespeareans (shame, shame), the title comes from A Winter’s Tale, and it is a baffling stage direction. Was there an actual bear chasing the actor off stage in an Elizabethan theater? Maybe. But anyway, I saw this title on Audible and decided immediately that I would listen to it and put it in my queue.
The story is about a cheerleader who is raped and the repurcussions she faces throughout the rest of her senior year. It is damn good writing. I couldn’t stop listening! I became annoyed that I only really have time for audiobooks on my commute because I just wanted to keep going despite the fact that the reader’s voice was kind of annoying. This book taps into the feelings of trauma so well, but it also makes them easily accessible for the reader. I finished it several hours ago, and I’m still sitting here a little baffled about how impressed I was with the novel. I plan to see if the author has other books. I can’t recommend this one enough.
Again, I want to suggest that you step outside of your comfort zone with reading and take on a subject or genre you wouldn’t normally approach. It can be incredibly rewarding.