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