To say “I love this book” I feel is a misnomer. Because I didn’t like this book, or I didn’t like the concept of this book. I don’t want to believe that this book needed to be written to represent the number of teens who are raped by people who know them and have a “loving” relationship with. But this is the world we live in and this book is important to realize problems and pain plague not just adults, but also teens and young adults. This is not a topic just for adult fiction.
I felt like all the characters were really dynamic and three-dimensional. and I appreciated that. Even the secondary characters hinted at a backstory and felt real to me. I like how Smith crafted her characters. Even though a couple of characters were minor and we saw very little of them, I felt a connection to them. Edit: Also reading another review reminded me I felt no connection whatsoever to her parents.
As far as Eden goes, I sometimes hated Eden. A lot. She doesn’t get a free pass. I acknowledge she was traumatized, and I’m not judging her. But she also did bad things as a result of what happened to her. I also didn’t really like Mora, I think she was a pretty bad friend for half of the book, like alternating years of school.
A couple things I thought was done very well is the way everything was handled after Eden told Josh. All of it was what should have happened. Everyone believed her. I think it’s good to note that people had different reactions. Caelin was shocked, and accepted it; Josh reacted with anger and acceptance; Detective Dorian responded with understanding and acceptance. Obviously the common, and important, denominator is that they all accepted this was a real thing that happened to her. Even if it was three years ago. I think it’s important that Kevin was also a victim of abuse, but Detective Dorian doesn’t excuse him, and Eden doesn’t give him a free pass.
Another thing I forgot to add before being reminded of it while reading another review. It’s SO important Eden realizes she is the only one who can save her. She’s the only one who can start to heal herself. NOT A BOY. I was actually really wary when she started “dating” or whatever with Josh because I really didn’t want this book to be that trope. But luckily it wasn’t.
Overall I think this was a really important read. This is representation and messages we need to send to combat rape culture. We can’t just let it go. I think books like this, like Speak, like Asking For It. They might seem, to some, like they are too serious for teens. For YA. But the percentage of young people who deal with this kind of trauma. This trauma; it never leaves them. Just like it should never leave you.