Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

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I received this book for free from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: All the Rage by Courtney SummersAll the Rage by Courtney Summers
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 14th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Buy on Amazon

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

This is some terribly gritty stuff! This story revolves around a rape, and soon enough, you can add in a girl’s disappearance. So yes, this book is harsh, and Summers tackles it head-on with her immensely poignant writing style. She has a way of dissecting her characters until you can’t help but feel just as lost, just as completely broken as they are. I was honestly emotionally and psychologically confused for much of this novel. This book also touches on one of today’s biggest challenges with gender violence – society’s disbelief and victim blaming. Especially when the accused is the son of a prominent town figure. Stories like this are, sadly, the reality for many girls in our own world.

With that said, this is not a story to tread lightly. This is not the book you pick up when you want a light read, or even just a diversion. This book will make you feel uncomfortable. It will put you into the skin of a girl who feels dirty, filthy… dead. It’s not the kind of novel where you will connect with the character in the way one might expect. How can you connect with someone who’s so broken, she doesn’t even feel worthy of living? Instead, you become one with her. You become one, and you hope against all hope that she gets through this seemingly impossible hurdle – if it can even be called that. In other words, she’s a character who forced me to stay at arm’s length emotionally, if only to protect my sanity, while still drawing me entirely into her psyche. This girl does not only bear the weight of an assault, she also has to deal with being the school pariah. The person who “cried rape” while her peers bully and mock her for “wanting attention”. What’s worse is you can glimpse at what a wonderful person Romy truly is… or was. You can see that she is kind, caring, and only wants a freaking break! She harbors so much fear and mistrust, that she can’t even see when someone good finally comes around.

Leon is the light at the end of this tunnel, and I was glad that even though she doesn’t see it, he brings at least a little bit of warmth to her life – to this book. I was so happy to see him not give up so easily, realizing that this isn’t the real her, something is eating her up inside. Furthermore, there’s her mom and step-dad who are both there for her, present at just the right times. Similarly, her job at the diner and this work dynamic is a welcome change from the isolation. It sort of becomes a safe haven for her and I loved that. When we’re not focusing on Romy’s internal struggles, the plot follows the disappearance of the only girl who gave Romy the benefit of the doubt. It’s not a plot that ended up surprising me – even though I didn’t guess every detail of what transpired, it’s easy to predict the bigger picture. However, this story is more about what happened to Romy, than what’s happening presently. It’s about her finding the strength to at least try. As expected – having read Summers’ books before – the ending is somewhat open ended, though full of hope. It’s realistic, but I can’t say I didn’t wish for more. Like a short “one year later” prologue. But that’s the thing with her books, you need to know her characters to be okay, so these somewhat open endings, while appreciatively realistic, can feel very abrupt.

All the Rage is raw to the bone. It’s painful, bitter, heartbreaking, and incredibly important. Summers has been an auto-buy for me from the very first page of hers I ever turned. She’s a powerful storyteller, and she has done it again!


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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18 Responses to “Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    Books like these are always so brutal, but at the same time really important. My heart is already breaking for Romy. The poor poor girl. I’m glad she has Leon fighting for her though. I have this on my TBR and I should get to it soon!
    Lovely review, Giselle!

  2. Cynthia

    I just read this book and I loved it so, so much! You are so right about how emotional and heavy this book was. I felt so bad for Romy. There were so many characters in this book I just wanted to slap.

  3. Zoey

    Those raw, uncomfortable characters and storylines are definitely what Summers excels in. The diner sounds like a great part of the story!

  4. Hannah

    I’ve seen some wonderful reviews for this book, but I know it’s going to be a difficult read, emotionally, just because of the raw, gritty subject matter. However, I think it’s so important that these issues are covered, particularly because this same shit happens in real life to girls and women, over and over again. A wonderful, insightful review.

  5. Rashika

    *whimpers* I am going to read this one soon .-. (like in the upcoming week or so)
    Would you mind holding my hand as I read this? I am kind of terrified out of my mind because of how intense it sounds. I think I’ll have to make sure to have something fluffy on hand or read two books at once so that I am not completely thrown into this tough book without anything to comfort me (or maybe I’ll just cuddle with my stuffed animals and hide from humanity).

    My rambling aside, I am really glad to see you enjoyed this, Giselle. I love love love that this book isn’t just some light look on the aftermath of rape but actually explores it and shows us the rough bits and makes us experience them to the point of discomfort.

    I also love the sound of Leon! It makes me happy knowing that this book isn’t completely depressing and I’ll get to see the light at the end of the tunnel! 🙂

    Lovely review, hon! 🙂

  6. Nova @ Out of Time

    I recently read this one and I completely agree. There’s something about this book that is like “OMG. I can’t even.” and then it goes to “I’m going to kill somebody” because of how much we grow to care for these characters.

    I loved it so much. It was wonderful and I’d like to think I’m a little less ignorant after finishing it.

  7. Keionda Lei Lewis

    Hey Giselle!
    This book does sound like it would be really gritty. I’m more of the romance type and not sure if I would read this BUT on that note, it would be very important to read it because I’m sure it teaches a very valuable lesson.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Ramona

    This one sounds heavy, like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I find I have to get into a certain mode before I can read them… I’ll probably read this one too, as soon as I feel brave enough. Great review, Giselle 🙂

  9. jazmen

    If I’m in the mood for a raw read, I think I’ll check this one out. Sometimes the more gritty, and dark it is the more I need to prepare for it. Great review, definitely has me intrigued!

  10. Benish

    I’m hoping to read this book next, the author’s work is usually brutal but I do love her writing style – wonderful review Giselle!

  11. JennRenee

    Im not always good with books on this subject but I think its an important subject so I try them. i am just such a sensitive soul they generally tear me to pieces and leave me broken. I am ready for this one though.

  12. Vi

    Oh, even though the subject matter is tough, I enjoy it when the author does it right and it sounds like it might be the case here. I think I’ve read something from Summers before and enjoyed it. I’ll add this to the list. Great review!