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Exit, Pursued by a Bear
“I didn’t used to overthink my choices quite so much. Then someone made what I’ve always been told is a very important choice for me, and now I tend to overthink everything else.”
Author: E.K. Johnston
Genre: YA Contemporary
Themes: Rape, abortion, friendship
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Days I took to Read: 4
ABOUT THE BOOK
Hermione Winters is the golden girl at Palermo High School, head of the cheer squad, which is her small town’s pride and joy. But for those superstitious enough to believe, every year there’s a star cheerleader of the class, as well as a girl who gets pregnant.
Hermione just never thought she could be both.
After she is sexually assaulted at cheer camp, she becomes a legend in a way she never could have imagined. Her story is one of strength, perseverance, and the ability to trust in the people closest to you when you really need them.
I’m going to start this off saying that when I picked up this book from the library, it really wasn’t because I was super into the storyline. It was mainly because the title (and a few of the named characters) were obviously inspired by Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale. In that play, Hermione is the queen of Sicily, falsely accused of infidelity, who dies and then returns to life after being made into a statue. Basically, she’s a pretty cool lady that gets handed some bad cards, but then she comes back sort of “reckoning” style and teaches those who did her wrong a lesson.
Really, other than the fact that the main character of this book is really strong and independent, there’s no similarities between the plays at all.
This really upset me, because it made me wonder why in the world the writer decided to use one of the most famous stage directions in literary history (Exeunt, Pursued By A Bear) as the title and take a few of the names from the same play, just for the sake of it.
But if I put all of that behind me, and focus on the story and Hermione’s struggle to hold herself together and find herself again after her attack, I’d say the book is pretty good. It’s difficult to write a plot about a rape or attack and make it realistic while refraining from pity-partying or victim blaming, but this one accomplishes all of that. Hermione is already a strong woman before her attack, and the story is about her trying to return to that after cheer camp. She has a beautiful relationship with her best friend, Polly, and the fact that she sticks so close to her during this whole incident speaks volumes about their already-established friendship throughout the book.
But really… apart from Hermione being an incredibly strong woman to deal with what she did, I didn’t find anything special or noteworthy about this book. Like I said, I’m a little bit tainted because I thought it was a Shakespeare retelling, but by the end, I was just… meh.
Oh, well. At least I won’t be pursued by a bear.