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Review: Sex & Violence (Carrie Mesrobian)

The Deets:
Audience: older YA
Pages: 304
Publisher: October 1st 2013 by Carolrhoda LAB
ISBN: 9781467705974
Genre: contemporary
Source: eARC from Netgalley


Sex & ViolenceAT FIRST YOU DON'T SEE THE CONNECTION.

Sex has always come without consequences for seventeen-year-old Evan Carter. He has a strategy--knows the profile of The Girl Who Would Say Yes. In each new town, each new school, he can count on plenty of action before he and his father move again. Getting down is never a problem. Until he hooks up with the wrong girl and finds himself in the wrong place at very much the wrong time.

AND THEN YOU CAN'T SEE ANYTHING ELSE.

After an assault that leaves Evan bleeding and broken, his father takes him to the family cabin in rural Pearl Lake, Minnesota, so Evan's body can heal. But what about his mind?

HOW DO YOU GO ON, WHEN YOU CAN'T THINK OF ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER?

Nothing seems natural to Evan anymore. Nothing seems safe. The fear--and the guilt--are inescapable. He can't sort out how he feels about anyone, least of all himself. Evan's really never known another person well, and Pearl Lake is the kind of place where people know everything about each other--where there might be other reasons to talk to a girl. It's annoying as hell. It might also be Evan's best shot to untangle sex and violence.



Ethan is a complicated mess. In one sense he is your typical teenage manwhore, but in another sense he is a victim. Obviously there is some physical violence here, but Ethan is more the victim of a broken heart than anything. His first experience with "love" leaves him broken and wounded, and I think searching.

Ethan pretty much sounds like teenage girl, right? You wouldn't be wrong for saying so. I thought it was interesting that the glimpses into the male psyche we got through Ethan really did fit for either gender. Now, don't think that makes Ethan less believable as a narrator, because that isn't true. He was great. I am merely pointing out that guys and girls aren't that different after all.

Something else that makes Ethan such a great character is how raw he is. There is no hiding his desires. After the attack, he can't hide its effects either. He is a victim, and as such suffers serious psychological complications. (Think PTSD.) The whole process he goes through to find "normal" is powerful. There is no easy road to recovery, and Ethan's character shows that.

I really wish this book had a different name. I have a feeling that the title, Sex & Violence, is going to keep it off many shelves. I know for certain that I can't send a copy to some of my teacher friends because their schools are terribly censored. This is a sad fact. Also unfortunate is the fact that pretty much any teen I know will be drawn to this book based on the title alone, but few will get the chance to read it outside of a library. You may think it's not that big of a deal, but it is. Without Ethan's story, many readers will be missing huge life lessons. Hidden between these pages are messages about healing, finding yourself, and learning to see others for what they are (not what they can do for you). There is also a decent bit of snarky teenage dialogue too.


I'm going to add a little something here about the book. My review was pretty basic, but the book is not. There are many layers to work through. I think this book would be wonderful read along side Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak. The healing process that both characters undergo is powerful, and worthy of discussion.

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