By: Jenny Downham
Publisher: David Fickling Books Imprint (Random House)
Publication Date: September 2011
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: September 24, 2011
From the author who released Before I Die, a huge hit that is slated as a movie release in 2012, comes another very in-depth and emotional piece of YA fiction.
In this story, a girl by the name of Karyn (fifteen-years-old) says she was lured to Tom Parker’s home and was “taken advantage of against her will.” Tom Parker goes to court, and Karyn doesn’t want to leave her house - simply because of the fact that society is what it is and somehow Tom is the stud and she is the harpy.
But this book doesn’t revolve around these two characters. The center of this tale belongs to Mikey and Ellie. Mikey is the brother of Karyn. This is a young man who takes care of his two sisters and his mother, working constantly to provide protection for his all-female family. Mikey is a good boy but extremely tired of his life, and the whole mess with Karyn has angered him beyond belief. His younger sister, Holley, is someone he wants to watch over so she’s not involved in this trouble. Karyn is housebound and barely eats anymore, while his mother drinks and disappears a great deal. All he wants is to head to Tom Parker’s house and make him pay. From keying Tom’s fancy canary-yellow car to dreaming of beating him to death, Mikey has no idea the next steps to take.
Tom Parker is a jerk. But his sister, Ellie, loves him. She is the girl who was in the house when this ‘horrific moment’ took place, and she is the only witness who can truly say how guilty or how innocent her brother may be. Her father is a die-hard, tough lawyer who knows he will get his son out of this mess. While her mother is basically a society woman who simply shrugs her shoulders when her friends ask about the incident, smiles, and throws a party. In fact, she throws a rather large one when Tom is released on bail. She even has caterers bring the right food so everyone can have a ball.
What happens? Mikey and Ellie find themselves falling for each other in the middle of this whole mess, and romance and loyalty to one’s own family meet head-to-head. The struggles, tension, and almost ‘serene beauty’ of watching two innocent people try to find a way to be together while staying true to their loved ones is traumatic, sad, and extraordinary. Mikey and Ellie are the center of the violent tornado as they are pitted against each other to try and deal with the harsh topic of sexual assault.
This amazing writer has done it again by reaching into the YA world as deeply as she possibly can to focus on issues that are “too difficult” to even think about, not to mention see play out in the real world.