Friday, August 10, 2018

Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount

Last week, I read a tweet by Patty Blount talking about her new release- and I pre-ordered it right that minute.  Last night, I went to my mailbox, and there it was...I started it immediately, and finished it this morning (I sure do love my summers!).  Back in 2014, I read her first novel- Some Boys Are, and loved it, and this book was just the same.

Someone I Used to Know isn't your typical sexual assault story.  Typically those books deal with the immediate year after a sexual assault and how the victim deals with the fallout.  This book is actually two years after the assault and shows not only what the victim has to deal with, but also how family and friends are affected.

In grade 9, Ashley is raped by one of her brother's football teammates to score points for a game.  The result of the trial is a lighter sentence of sexual assault because the judge believed that he just got carried away and his life shouldn't be ruined for one mistake.  For Ashley however, her life has changed in so many ways through his actions.   Even though she is the victim, the school community blame her for getting the football program cancelled, her brother blames her for joining the dance team for the school and her parents blame her for drinking with her rapist.  Ashely suffers from anxiety, loneliness and struggles to get through her days at school.  However she isn't the only one who is suffering.  Her brother Derek is also struggling.  He is angry at his former teammate for not respecting his sister, but is more angry with himself for not protecting Ashely.  As he slowly learns that rape is not just an issue for women, he starts to recognize that he also plays a role in the way society view women, use sex to sell products and the way athletes and other powerful men are protected.  As Ashely learns to cope with her new normal, Derek also needs to learn how to cope with all of his feelings and emotions and learn to forgive and be there for each other.

This book, like Some Boys Are was amazing!  I could not put it down.  It is so interesting, painful and insightful to read how rape affects the family as well.  It makes me realize that there are some conversations I need to have with my own boys still in order for them to understand the role they play in ensuring all people are safe, respected and treated with dignity.

I also really appreciate the fact that Blount calls it like it is- I have trouble with the term sexual assault rather than rape.  As Ashley describes in this story, the word rape is hard to hear, and hard to say.  The phrase sexual assault seems to lessen the severity of action- the word rape is as ugly as the act itself.

Because of the subject of this story, I would hesitate to give this to elementary students.  However, at the secondary level- I think everyone should read it.

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