Blount’s (The Way It Hurts, 2017, etc.) latest, a loose sequel to Some Boys (2014), again looks at the aftermath of rape, this time with a focus on secondary survivors.
Told with flashbacks through the alternating perspectives of a brother and sister two years after one of his teammates raped her to gain points in a scavenger hunt, this sometimes-didactic all-tell, no-show story has a clear purpose and ultimately hits some genuine emotional notes. High school junior Ashley is a fierce survivor who turns to blogging and activism to fight her anxiety attacks; her older brother, college freshman Derek, joins a men’s anti-rape group and finally gets it. Romance plays a significant role in character growth, and while the stated authorial intent was to show the effect of Ashley’s rape on the whole family, the novel mostly plays out as two parallel narratives which pull together into a family drama only at the end. Characterization and polish take a back seat to message, and some of the dialogue is weak. However, the messaging in Derek’s story is important: Toxic masculinity creates rape culture, and nice boys who do nothing to stop it are part of the problem. The book follows a white default.
Heavy-handed, but there are readers who want this story and some who need it. (resources) (Fiction. 13-18)