Review: Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Release Date: March 15, 2016
Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

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.

“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.”

Trigger warning: Rape.

Every summer, Hermione Winters spends two weeks at camp Manitouwabing, cheer camp. Considering this is her last year there, she intends to make the most of it. At a party there a boy spikes her drink and then rapes her. And she remembers nothing.

Unlike other books that deal with similar subject matter, this one focuses completely on her recovery and support. It’s a story about her fight to live and not just survive. Hermione refuses to be treated like a victim. She won’t let her attacker win or what happened to her define her, and strives to reclaim what was stolen from her. Johnston shows a different kind of way to cope with sexual assault, because there is no right way to cope.

“If you think I’m going to apologize for being drugged and raped, you have another thing coming.”

Hermione is one of the best female leads I have ever read about. Her strength and hopefulness blew me away. Her support system was phenomenal. Polly, her best friend, is everything you could ever want in a friend. Her parents were always and completely understanding.

I know it’s not the most realistic situation but all of this shows what could be or maybe how it should be. Police officers who are proactive and compassionate. A pretty amazing and supportive psychologist. Nonjudgmental church goers. It’s everything the world should be.

The author does an incredible job of not shying away from the tough situations that follow Hermione’s assault. The emotions felt honest and at times the story was hard to read. Hermione’s story will suck you in and hold on to you until the very last page. I definitely recommend!

four stars

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