Vigilante

For those of you who’ve read and binge-watched Thirteen Reasons Why and are looking for something similar, I suggest you give Vigilante by Kady Cross a try. This book, which was released a couple of weeks ago, made me so mad that I could scream, but it also made me want to fight back against a society that shames victims while excusing their attackers. I’m not advocating taking things to the extremes that the main character in this book did, but I can certainly understand the appeal. When you feel like nothing is being done, sometimes the only thing to do is to take the situation into your own hands.

Everything changed after the party. The party where Hadley and her best friend, Magda, went their separate ways. The party where Magda was drugged and raped by four “good boys,” and the shameful act was posted to social media. Months after that party, despite all of the physical and video evidence, those “good boys” remained free, and Magda had to live with what had been done to her.

Hadley tried to be there for her friend, but Magda was slipping farther and farther away.  Soon, she would be completely out of Hadley’s reach. The pain and humiliation became too much for Magda, and she ended her life. Now, Hadley is starting her senior year of high school without her best friend, and she has to sit in the same classes with the boys who destroyed her world.

Numb since her friend’s death, Hadley finally begins to feel something again when she gets the chance for a little revenge. At a party, one of Magda’s attackers is left passed out and alone. Hadley takes that as her cue. She writes “rapist” on him in Magda’s lipstick and posts a photo of the guy–using his own phone–to every site she can. Her classmates take care of the rest.

After the photo goes viral, Hadley decides to take things a step farther. Donning a pink ski mask and using her martial arts training, Hadley begins to go after the other guys who raped her friend. Along the way, she encounters (and stops) more attempted sexual assaults. Finally, after so long feeling like she failed her friend, Hadley is doing something that makes a difference…something even the cops can’t seem to manage.

But things are getting far more complicated than Hadley ever envisioned. Taking punches is becoming all too commonplace for her. People are starting to suspect that she is the person the media has dubbed “Pink Vigilante.” And the very guys she’s targeting are putting their own target on Hadley. She knows what they did to Magda. What more would they try to do to her?

Even as her quest for revenge threatens to overtake her world, Hadley simply can’t stop. No, she won’t stop…not until every one of Magda’s attackers has paid for what they’ve done. She’ll deal with the consequences of her actions when she’s finished, but she has to see this through.

Will Hadley find justice? Or will her desire for vengeance lead to her own destruction? Find out when you read Vigilante.


As I sort of mentioned at the beginning of this post, I do not advocate violence or taking the law into your own hands. That being said, I couldn’t help but cheer for Hadley as she put a hurt on the horrible guys she encountered. She refused to accept that she and the other women around her simply had to be victims, so she did something about it. Yes, many of her actions were questionable (and illegal), but others were inspirational, like getting involved in self-defense classes, finding a group of girls to watch each others’ backs at parties, and calling people out–even her own mother–for victim-blaming.

Aside from Hadley, one of the characters in Vigilante that I particularly liked was Detective Davies. This woman was involved in Magda’s case and was disgusted by how it turned out. She taught Hadley’s self-defense class and encouraged all who attended to band together. She told them how to fight, and, at a school assembly, she gave the single most important way to stop sexual assault and rape. Don’t sexually assault or rape anybody. Full stop. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if a girl (or guy) is drunk, wearing revealing clothing, or strutting around naked. She’s not asking for it. No excuses, fame, or family money should be enough to erase sexual assault. (I’m thinking of quite a few public figures as I type this.)

I do think Vigilante is suited to a mature teen audience, but many of its themes need to be discussed with girls–and boys–as early as middle school. While this book may not be the best fit for middle grades, I urge you to seek out others that may be more age-appropriate.

If Vigilante sounds like the book for you, I also urge you to read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (obviously), Some Boys by Patty Blount, All the Rage by Courtney Summers, and The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney.

For more information on author Kady Cross, visit her website.

Finally, if you or anyone you know has experienced sexual assault and you need help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE. You can also go to RAINN.org for more information.

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Some Boys

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.

If you’d like more information on Some Boys, visit author Patty Blount’s website. You can also connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or Pinterest.

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.

All the Rage

For the past week or so, I’ve been reading All the Rage by Courtney Summers, and I was finally able to finish it last night. (Thank you, NetGalley.) This book, which will be released on Tuesday, is not a light, easy read. It deals with some very serious, sensitive issues, and it doesn’t sugarcoat anything. Sometimes, I simply had to put the book aside and read something a bit less intense and disturbing. And if this book–which addresses things like date rape, victim-blaming, bullying, etc.–doesn’t disturb you on some level, then you’re not paying attention.

Romy Grey is the town pariah–and it’s not just because she’s the daughter of the town drunk. She receives dirty looks from nearly everyone, people talk about her behind her back (and to her face), she’s bullied incessantly, and she can’t rely on anyone to truly have her back. Why? Well, not so long ago, Romy was raped…by the sheriff’s son, a golden boy who everyone believed could do no wrong.

After Romy came forward with what happened, it became crystal clear that no one would ever take her seriously. People blamed her for trying to ruin a “good kid’s” reputation and figured she was just a slut from the wrong side of town looking for some attention.

But Romy knows the truth. She still bears the scars of that horrible night. She fears nearly every guy who crosses her path, and she can’t trust that this won’t happen again. She’s dead inside, and she doesn’t think she has anyone to lean on. Romy certainly can’t depend on her former friends–friends who abandoned her when everything went pear-shaped. No, they’re too busy making her life miserable…and they’re not the only ones. Some of the adults she should be able to trust fail Romy at every turn.

Romy’s only respite is her job at a diner in a neighboring town. No one knows her or her story there. She can blend in and try to have something (or someone) good in her life. But all of that ends when Romy’s former best friend, Penny, comes in the diner one night and hints that the guy who violated Romy may have done the same to another girl.

Romy doesn’t want to hear what Penny has to say, but this news–and Penny’s appearance at the diner–sends Romy’s entire world into a tailspin. She seems to go looking for trouble…and she definitely finds it.

As Romy’s life spirals out of control, she realizes that she has once again been victimized by those around her. And that’s not all. Now, Penny is missing, and, for some reason, people are blaming Romy for Penny not being found. Why? Why are people so eager to point the finger at Romy? What connection does she have to Penny’s disappearance?

Facing the comments and looks at school make Romy feel dirty and sick, and that only gets worse when she comes to understand just what happened to her–and Penny–on the night that Penny went missing. Romy wonders if maybe she should be the one in Penny’s place. Everyone else seems to think so.

Romy is struggling with everything that is happening. She doesn’t feel like she can talk to anyone, and all of this pressure is going to make her self-destruct. And if Romy knows anything, it’s this–there’s more than one way to kill a girl.

_______________

I don’t know how appropriate the title of this book is for the characters, but All the Rage definitely fits my feelings about the book. I raged at everyone who made Romy’s life miserable. I raged at a corrupt system that blamed the victim and made her feel totally worthless. I raged at those who bullied this girl so incessantly that she couldn’t feel safe anywhere. And, yes, I even raged at Romy for not speaking up, for seemingly trying to ruin the only good things in her life, and for taking what everyone else dished out. I wanted her to fight to be heard, and I wanted the people around her to stand by her, believe her, and fight for this tortured girl.

All the Rage is a gritty, realistic look at something that happens all too often. When young women are sexually assaulted, people wonder what they were wearing, how much they were drinking, or if they were “asking for it.” Why aren’t we putting the blame where it belongs? On the rapist. If someone–anyone–in power had believed Romy, the entire chain of events that followed could have been avoided…and two girls could have been spared horrible fates.

If I had to say one negative thing about this book as a whole, it would be that the timeline of events could be difficult to follow. I often found myself going back and rereading passages because it wasn’t entirely clear if something happened “now” or “then.” A little confusing there.

All the Rage is definitely a book for mature readers. (I would not put this book in the hands of a middle school student.) It’s raw, dark, and frank. It is not a book to pick up when you’re looking for something light and fluffy. This is a book that will make you think, make you reexamine your own attitudes about very important issues, and, most importantly, a book that will make you rage. Be prepared for that.

You can buy All the Rage on April 14th. If you want to learn more about the book in the meantime, check out the author’s website. You can also connect with the author via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Inexcusable

There are several unread books on my shelves that have been there for years.  One of my goals this year (and next year) is to get around to reading some of these books (mainly to make space for even more books).  This week, I decided to take a break from reading Kristin Cashore’s Bitterblue (which is awesome…but long) and read one of these sadly neglected books on my shelf–Inexcusable by Chris Lynch.  This book was released in 2005, and I’ve been meaning to read it but never got around to it until now.  It’s a short, fast read that will appeal to reluctant readers, and the subject matter–what can only be called date rape–is a topic that should be explored with any and all teens.

Keir Sarafian is a “good guy.”  Ask anyone.  He doesn’t get into too much trouble.  He’s a great son and brother.  He’d rather cut off his own arm than hurt anyone close to him.  So, it’s absolutely impossible that he could have done what Gigi–the love of his life–is accusing him of.  No.  He absolutely couldn’t have raped her.

As Keir tries to figure out why Gigi is saying these awful things, he reflects back on the past year.  He thinks about the good times and bad, things he could have done differently, mistakes he made, and whether or not he really is a “good guy.”  What could have possibly led him to this point, and what will happen to him now?  Is there any way he can convince Gigi that this is all some huge mistake?  Or is Keir’s biggest mistake believing that he couldn’t do something this horrible?

It becomes clear to the reader pretty quickly that Keir is not the “good guy” he’s built himself up to be in his own mind, but it is interesting to see his thought processes.  What makes someone so delusional that they can’t see what’s right in front of them?  In Keir’s case, I think we can partially blame his father, who sees nothing wrong with getting wasted with his teenage son.  We can also partially blame sports culture.  This idea that athletes are above the law does nothing to help these guys when the you-know-what really hits the fan.  Mostly, though, the blame lies with Keir, who fails to take a long, hard look at his own actions.  It seems he’s always pushing the fault onto someone else’s shoulders.  After all, he’s a “good guy,” and he couldn’t possibly do something really bad.

In my opinion, Inexcusable is a good book for teen readers, especially those who don’t quite understand the true meaning and seriousness of date rape.  Some of the content and language is mature, so I wouldn’t put this book in the hands of middle grade readers.

Another book on this topic that you may want to consider is The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney.  While Inexcusable looks at date rape from the male’s point of view, The Mockingbirds looks at the female perspective and what a girl can do to fight back when something this horrible happens to her.  Of the two of these books, The Mockingbirds is probably my favorite, and I will hopefully find time to read the sequel, The Rivals, soon.