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EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR by E.K. Johnston Kirkus Star


by E.K. Johnston

Pub Date: March 15th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-101-99458-0
Publisher: Dutton

A driven cheerleader confronts life and relationships following her sexual assault.

When Hermione Winters arrives at Camp Manitouwabing for the final pre-season cheer camp of her high school career, she’s prepared for intense competition and exhausting practices. Working with her fierce best friend Polly as co-captain, Hermione anticipates athletic challenges and triumphs—not being drugged and raped at a camp dance. Because her rapist leaves her propped up on a rock in the camp’s lake, there’s little DNA evidence to be recovered, and Hermione has no memory of what happened to her. When a pregnancy test two weeks later yields a positive result, Hermione knows she has a second chance at justice. Johnston’s clever—but never precious—update of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale is unflinching but not at all graphic in its treatment of sexual violence and abortion and likewise honestly confronts the wider repercussions of rape culture and victim-blaming, particularly in small towns. Hermione’s is one type of sexual-assault and trauma-survival story: she enjoys all the advantages of being popular and middle-class, and she gets the help she needs so she can continue to enjoy that life. This doesn’t make Hermione’s journey easy; her victories are earned. An author’s note follows, explaining that Hermione's experience is a best-case scenario, providing links for both U.S. and Canadian resources, and offering encouragement to readers not so lucky as Hermione.

Middle and high school readers will pass this powerful, engaging story around and around. Adults should be ready to join in the discussion that follows. (Fiction. 12-18)