A well-meaning but deeply flawed account of the aftermath of rape.
Beez and Ani start dating and eventually having sex in a joyful, caring and mutually respectful relationship. Then Ani goes to a party without Beez, and the next day, Ani’s friend Kate calls Beez from the hospital. In a believably confusing incident, Ani has been raped by multiple boys, and, in a final act of hostility, the perpetrators “left a lighter inside of her.” (The gruesome specifics of this act are left, uncomfortably, to readers’ imaginations.) Ani and Beez are both understandably overwhelmed and confused after the incident, but readers are given few tools with which to make sense of their feelings or behavior. A largely ineffectual counselor offers buzzword-laden suggestions, but the book never expands on the meanings of terms like “empower” or “victim-blaming.” The narrative never challenges Beez’s refusal to let Ani break up with him nor his attempt to heal her sexually by focusing on her body without regard to her stated wishes. Worst, an incident in which Beez finds Ani in a compromising position with a teacher is presented as evidence of Ani’s dysfunction rather than a teacher violating a student.
An issue this sensitive should be presented with far greater care. (Fiction. 14-18)