Full disclosure: I finished reading Some Boys on Saturday evening. I had intended to post on this book yesterday morning, but, after seeing what was happening in Orlando, words failed me. Truthfully, I still don’t feel quite up to writing this evening, but I’m forcing myself to do so anyway. If you’ve been following me for a while, you likely know that this blog is a form of therapy for me, and I need that right now. Also, the book I’m posting on deals with an important issue, one that means a great deal to me, and if I can lead one person who needs it to this book, I will have done my job.
Some Boys by Patty Blount is a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award. For that reason alone, this book has been on my radar. One thing, though, held me back from reading it immediately–the tagline on the front cover.
“Some boys go too far. Some boys will break your heart. But one boy can make you whole.”
Do you see what gave me pause? Yeah, it’s that whole “one boy can make you whole” part. Um, no. Ladies, you are whole and worthy without a guy at your side. If you want a boyfriend–or even a husband–that’s fine, but don’t let them define you or take away from what makes you you.
(Some editions of the book have since changed that last sentence. It now reads, “But one boy can mend it.” That’s a little better, but I’m still not happy.)
*Steps off soapbox…for now.*
So, what made me finally pick up this book (or at least download it from Overdrive)? Two things. 1. Recommendations from fellow librarians. 2. The absolute absurdity of the Brock Turner rape case. Some Boys deals with the fallout after a girl accuses the school’s star lacrosse player of rape. Sound familiar?
The main character, Grace, experiences victim-blaming and slut-shaming while Brock, the boy who raped her, is offered condolences. After all, he’s a good guy. Surely he wouldn’t do something so heinous. She had to be asking for it, right? He said she was into it, so it couldn’t have been rape. No one seems to care that Grace was too out of it to offer consent–or that she did, in fact, refuse his advances. She’s the pariah, and every day is another obstacle course of verbal assaults that only make Grace feel worse.
Ian, Brock’s best friend, was there the night of the assault. He drove Grace to the hospital, but he didn’t exactly know what had happened. He knew, on some level, that Grace had been through something horrible, but, like everyone else, he didn’t think that his friend was capable of something as horrible as rape. Ian’s mind begins to change, however, when a week-long detention makes him spend a little more time with Grace.
As Ian and Grace are forced to clean lockers during spring break, they learn a little more about each other. Grace learns that Ian is facing the possibility of never playing lacrosse again after his second concussion. Ian learns that Grace is genuinely afraid of turning her back on him or being alone and defenseless. She wears her black, studded clothing like armor, and she’s trying her hardest to stand tall when everyone around her turns away from what happened–or acts like it was her fault.
Ian begins to see that maybe his buddy Brock isn’t as innocent as he’s claiming, but, at the same time, Ian doesn’t want to be the one to step out against his friend. He could lose everything: his popularity, his standing with the lacrosse team, all the friends he’s ever had.
But what about Grace? She’s so alone, and, if she’s brave enough to tell the truth in the face of such hatred and animosity, maybe he is too. Maybe Grace isn’t quite as alone as she thinks.
When reading Some Boys, it’s all-too-easy to draw parallels to the Brock Turner rape case (or so many others we’ve heard before). The privileged, athletic boy is given more credence than the girl who accused him. Everyone said the same things we’ve been hearing in the news. She was drunk. Look at how she was dressed. She wanted it. She didn’t say no.
*Steps back on soapbox.*
Let me be clear here. I don’t care if you’re walking buck naked down Main Street. I don’t care if you’re so sloppy drunk you can’t stand. I don’t care if you’ve said yes a thousand times before. If you say no–or even if there is no enthusiastic yes–it’s a NO! This is not a difficult concept to grasp, but a lot of people continue to insist that victims are somehow to blame for what happens to them. There is only one person to blame here–the rapist. That’s it. And our legal system, like the rest of society, needs to do a better job of supporting the victims instead of blaming them. They also need to quit being morons and stop being lenient with rapists instead of worrying about how a harsh sentence could harm their futures.
As you can likely see, Some Boys is sure to start some passionate discussions. I’m hoping those discussions will lead young people–and older readers–to really consider their actions and reactions when they hear of a sexual assault or when rape culture is perpetuated. Also, I’m hoping that this book lands in the hands of a young person–male or female–who needs to know they’re not alone.
Okay…I need to step away from this before I get all worked up again.
For those who’d like to read other books like Some Boys, I encourage you to read All the Rage by Courtney Summers and The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney. There are many other books out there, but this is a good start.