Exit, Pursued By A Bear
Author: E.K. Johnston
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Genre/Themes: Fiction, Contemporary, YA
Release Date: March 15th 2016
Page Count: 248
“I’ve never met any of these women before, and I will never see any of them after today. I don’t know their names and they don’t know mine. I’ve been on teams and in clubs my whole life, surrounded by people who are united by a common purpose, and I have never felt anything like this. Maybe it’s the gas, but until this moment, I have never felt such a kinship with a person who was not actually family. I love every person in this room, and I’m pretty sure that if they asked, I’d do anything for them.”
This book has been on my TBR for so long and I have no idea why it took me this long to read it. Honestly, I’m ashamed of myself. This book was amazing. More so, this book is so incredibly important. I even needed to wait a few days after reading it before even attempting to write this review in order to give my thoughts some time to process. Just please please please read it.
Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black. In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.
What I Liked
The friendships. Friendships in young adult fiction are so underrated. Nine times out of ten, I’d rather read about an exceptional friendship rather than a relationship. Hermione has the most amazing group of friends and it is amazing that she does. They were there for her through everything she went through and they were there to help whenever she needed it. This perfectly breaks the stereotypical trope of ruthless and catty cheerleaders.
It was real. Everything that Hermione went through was completely realistic. Nothing was romanticized or made to seem perfect. She went through the typical aftermath of experiencing a traumatic event as someone in reality would. More importantly, it explored moments that maybe might not be the norm, like Hermione maybe not feeling the emotions that we have come to expect, or that she personally would expect, as the standard way to feel after said traumatic event happened to her. I loved that this novel explored all the different angles of what Hermione had to deal with.
The discussion of extremely important topics. As you may have guessed by the way I’ve been talking about this novel, they are very heavy and dark themes that take place within this story. Exit, Pursed By A Bear deals with the topic of rape and the aftermath that a traumatic event like that would bring on. Hermione has to deal with the struggle of not remembering a single thing that happened to her. On top of that, she has to deal with the realization that she has become pregnant. Not only does this book discuss the important topic of rape, but also the controversial topic of abortions. I don’t think I have ever read about the idea of an abortion in YA literature before, and I’m glad that I finally have. As mentioned, this book contains some seriously important topics and it’s about time that they are being discussed within young adult novels.
The importance. I mean, I’ve literally just preached about the importance of this novel within the last few paragraphs…but honestly, this novel is important!
What I Didn’t Like
Absolutely nothing. Read this novel right now.
Clearly, I absolutely loved this book. I feel as though I’ve summed up my thoughts in the paragraphs above so I will leave you with one final statement. Read this book.
About The Author
E.K. Johnston had several jobs and one vocation before she became a published writer. If she’s learned anything, it’s that things turn out weird sometimes, and there’s not a lot you can do about it. Well, that and how to muscle through awkward fanfic because it’s about a pairing she likes.
Her books range from contemporary fantasy (The Story of Owen, Prairie Fire), to fairy-tale reimaginings (A Thousand Nights, Spindle), and from small town Ontario (Exit, Pursued By A Bear), to a galaxy far, far away (Star Wars: Ahsoka). She has no plans to rein anything in.
You can follow Kate on Twitter (@ek_johnston) to learn more about Alderaanian political theory than you really need to know, or on Tumblr (ekjohnston) and Instagram (ek_johnston) if you’re just here for pretty pictures.
E.K. Johnston is represented by Adams Literary