Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (24th Jan 2017)
Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn't want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it… and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother. The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up – and which ones are worth putting back together.
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The lure of another YA contemporary about relationships, slut shaming, and high school issues, drew me in like a moth to the flame. Other books that deal with important issues can be found here - What We Saw, What Happens Next, Exit, Pursued By A Bear, All Is Not Forgotten and The Butterfly Garden
I was excited for this book to bring something fresh to the table when it came to slut shaming and positive body image. But I felt like the book was a bit scattered; so many threads and issues in this book that it became overwhelmed and drifted from what could have been a really insightful book. For me at least, there was a lot going on - from topics such as sexual consent, gender roles, slut shaming, grief and loss - and few others thrown into the fray. The focus should have been singular for books such as these as otherwise the message gets lost, swallowed up by everything else you’re trying to cram in there. A lot of good questions were raised and this is great in getting conversions started - but it was left there, with no answers and no conclusions. Stick to one issue and make it count.
Told through dual narratives from Raychel and Matt, we get to see the same relationship but through two different perspectives. I particularly like this narrative style and it works well for this type of book, highlighting gender differences and how this might shape opinions in similar or different ways. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t really connect with either of the characters, neither Raychel nor Matt. Raychel and Matt are best friends, through Matt’s perspective we see that he wants something more from the relationship, but enter the triangle - where Raychel instead has feelings for Matt’s brother Andrew, who she’s sleeping with. The dual narrative with these two voices got messy at times, a little confusing, and did nothing in aiding me to enjoy the book or even like the characters. I didn’t like either of them and instead their voices and perhaps what they wanted to represent, fell really flat.
In terms of the storyline, it went at a slow pace for me, with nothing much really pulling me forward in the book, except to see how it ends. There was no engagement and no excitement - the only emotion I felt was with that shocking major event *trying not to be spoilery!* at which point I was legit like wait, WHAT THE FUUU? Even then, I felt so betrayed by that act and it was so random and weird, really weird.
I feel like overall, the author started this book with the intention of raising some good questions and that she did at certain points, but what she intended this to become vs what it actually came across as, are two different stories. There wasn’t the level of focus on sexual assault as there should have been, and instead to me, it felt overshadowed by the romantic lines drawn between these three characters; a triangle in which sexual assault was used as a vehicle to resolve romantic angsts. Could have been better in many departments overall.