Published by Carolrhoda Books on October 1st, 2014
Genres: coming of age, contemporary, young adult
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Sex has always come without consequences for seventeen-year-old Evan. Until he hooks up with the wrong girl and finds himself in the wrong place at very much the wrong time. After an assault that leaves Evan scarred inside and out, he and his father retreat to the family cabin in rural Minnesota?which, ironically, turns out to be the one place where Evan can't escape other people. Including himself. It may also offer him his best shot at making sense of his life again.
I told myself not that long ago that one of the things I wanted to start doing more was reading darker contemporaries about tougher subjects. I’ve read a couple this year and they are working out REALLY well. There are some things I will never be able to read about, but when I read the blurb for Sex and Violence, I was immediately drawn in. My first thought was this could either be absolutely amazing or go terribly, TERRIBLY wrong.
And you know, this book was almost perfect for me. I did lack a bit of an emotional connection to it, but the writing was absolutely gorgeous. Stunning. Carrie Mesrobian’s writing voice is the type of voice that I love the most. It’s vivid, flows well, and REALLY gives individual personalities to all the characters. Her writing speaks to me. Her characters were full of life and felt very, very real.
This is a story about a teenage boy who is what one would call a player. He sleeps with girls frequently–girls that are willing to put out. He stays away from the girls who are willing to commit. He goes on to describe his type, and it was interesting to see all that from a guy’s perspective. He never has to deal with any consequences of his shitty actions until one day he sleeps with the wrong girl and is brutally attacked for it. From there, he begins a long process of recovery and moves to a new place, and we are introduced to an interesting cast of characters, some likeable and some not so much. It’s a coming-of-age story, but it’s also a story about healing, friends, and it covers other tough issues such as PTSD and rape. It is not a happy read all the time but most of it is actually somewhat uplifting, or at least I thought it was. There are also some really funny moments in the book. Basically, it was the whole package for me.
The only thing that bothered me was some of the usage of homophobic language. Listen. I know that this is common in certain circles and at times guys love to call other guys the “F” word when they do something even remotely feminine, but I don’t feel like it added anything to the story and that kind of language DOES bother me, as realistic as it may be. If it had made a noticeable difference that I felt would have affected the outcome of anything in the book, I would have been okay with it, but I don’t feel it did. In fact, it made me like the characters less, and of those characters was the protagonist. But you know, that’s pretty much all I have to complain about.
The book was incredibly realistic as far as the sexual content goes. It’s not particularly graphic but I loved how it was handled. Because sex is messy for teenagers, and they need books they can read that they can relate to. Real life issues should not be hidden because where does that leave them when they come of age? This book handled it SO well. I wish I had had a book like this when I was a teen. There are also sorts of reasons teens have sex. Not all teens wait for marriage, some have casual sex, and some make stupid mistakes. Books like this are treasures for teens. Heck it’s a treasure for me because it was so wonderfully written.
So do I recommend it? You bet I do. I’m going to treasure my signed copy and read anything Carrie Mesrobian writes in the future. This is definitely another contemporary author to add to my list of favorites with Sara Zarr, Trish Doller, and Lauren Myracle.