Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.
But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined:
Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.
Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.
Heartbreaking and empowering, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the story of transcendent friendship in the face of trauma.
Song For This Book: Cheerleader by Pentatonic (OMI cover)
Firstly, I wanted to mention how excited I was when I realized that this book was set in Canada. It was one of those things that never crossed my mind prior to starting the book, but was a very pleasant surprise when I did notice. I rarely come across books set in Canada, so it was a really nice change.
It’s not often that you come across books about such serious subject matter – in this case, rape – that are so easy to read. But this one almost seems effortless as you work your way through it. It’s a sweet, inspiring tale about overcoming something terrible, and the relationships that make it possible to survive such a thing with your head on straight.
The Good Points of Exit, Pursued By A Bear:
I really enjoyed all of the characters in this book. They were fun and well-developed, and really helped to drive the story forward. They were what really made this book good.
I loved that they addressed her name in the story, and it’s nice to see that the Harry Potter names are making their way into other books. I see kids named after Harry Potter characters all the time, so it was a nice change to see them in paper format as well.
It was a great depiction of the difference that a really wonderful support system can make when someone bad happens. In a story that could go many different ways, it was good to see what happens when everyone sides with a person who has been harmed, and how that affects the outcome of a situation.
There was an LGBT aspect to this book, and I loved that it was handled that it was any other male-female relationship. I’m glad that we’re at that point in books where having a LGBT relationship doesn’t need to be extra special or wonderful to make a point.
The Downsides of Exit, Pursued By A Bear:
As much as I enjoyed this book, I do think that it was a bit of a missed opportunity. I would have loved to see more conflict for Hermione, more struggle, more issues. The fact of the matter is that most rape victims don’t take it as well as she did, and don’t have the support systems featured in the book. I’m not saying that everyone has to turn against her, but it would have been nice to see more of that, rather than just minor, insignificant mentions here and there.
Maybe as a result of what I mentioned in the last paragraph, I had a bit of trouble relating to Hermione and the other characters in the story. Perhaps this is just because I work in a therapeutic setting, and have seen things like this, but none of it felt particularly real to me. It ended up being a story, and nothing more.
If you’re looking for a nice story about friendship and relationships, this book is great. If you’re looking for a realistic depiction of what it’s like for a rape victim, I suggest looking elsewhere. Either way, though, definitely give this book a try, because it is very enjoyable.
Has anyone else read it? I would be really interested in hearing your thoughts!