I was hesitant to pick up this book, mainly because of the cover. I know it is wrong but we all do it, just not everyone admits it. I saw this cover and thought, “Oh, a cheerleading book? Hard pass.” I’m here to tell you, folks, this is not a book about cheerleading. This book is so much more.
When the story starts, we meet our protagonist, Hermione Winters, a seventeen year old high school student going to cheerleading camp. Hermione is the captain of her cheerleading team. They are all from a very small town where cheerleading is considered the sports team. With this being Hermione’s last year at camp, she gives everything her all. She knows this summer can make her a legend but she has no idea what kind. Everything changes for her when she goes to a dance, someone hands her a drink, and everything goes black. Hermione wakes up in the hospital completely unsure of what is going on. Her best friend, Polly, tells her exactly what happened. Hermione was drugged and raped. Together with an incredible support group, which includes her parents and best friend, Hermione works towards understanding what happened and moving past the event. It is going to take a lot of work, but Hermione doesn’t back down from anything. And she certainly is not going to let some stranger take her future away from her.
This book is a super, super quick read but it is one that you will not want to put down. You will want to read straight through from the first page until the very last page in one sitting. Let me just share with you my Goodreads “review” when I finished this book:
I hope by now people know that this book deals with rape. It is not ever an easy topic but a necessary one… if done correctly. We have seen a lot of books come out lately that have delt with this topic, yet I feel all of them have portrayed them differently. Please know I do not mean that in a bad way. I mean that there are so many things that someone could go through after a tramautic event like this takes place. In the case of Hermione, she refuses to get consumed by her attack yet has to learn how to handle her triggers and try to move on. She chooses to pick herself up and do whatever she has to in order to move forward. Ultimately, this is a story about strength.
There are so many things about this book that I love, the main one being the power of friendship. Hermione has her best friend, Polly, by her side the entire time. Just having that constant solid rock has to make all of the difference. Johnston portrays it in the most beautiful way. Polly never, ever leaves Hermione’s side. She is there for her no matter what is going on and I loved that.
I also loved the parent-child relationship within this story. Hermione’s parents are so very supportive. They trusted that they raised their daughter to make smart decisions and use her head logically. That is exactly what she did. She logically thought through what she wanted to do, and then what she needed to do to get that accomplished. Her parents supported her the entire way. There was so much open dialogue, so much honesty, so much trust.
This story is not all sunshine and rainbows, mind you. It is not just the story of a girl being raped, the cops catch bad guy, story over. Terrible things continue to happen. Hermione has to endure slut-shaming and the always present victim-blaming when she returns to school. The whispers, the stares, the rumors are always circulating. On top of all of that, there is the added layer of Hermione not being able to remember what happened to her due to the date rape drug. This MC has a mountain of issues to learn to deal with and get past. But… nothing more than she can handle.
I’m not sure I can say enough good about this book. This is a powerful story that shows that maybe if rape victims are shown compassion instead of blame, maybe that will help give them the strength to take their power back. I know not everyone has or will have that type of support group, but maybe if just one person showed compassion, it could make all the difference in the world. Perhaps then, the
victims survivors will learn to not be defined by what happened to them. I truly hope everyone has the chance to read this book, or the opportunity to borrow from their library. This is a must read for all.