Book Review: Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian

Posted October 28, 2013 by Kara in book review, Kara / 14 Comments

Book Review: Sex and Violence by Carrie MesrobianSex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian
Published by Carolrhoda Books on October 1st, 2014
Genres: coming of age, contemporary, young adult
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon

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. 

14 responses to “Book Review: Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian

  1. I really want to read this. I think the publisher really had some balls when they decided on this title (or the author, whoever’s title it really is). I think it’s going to turn a lot of readers off, but on the other hand, it might attract people too. Thanks for the review, Kara! I’ve just moved this one up the list:)

    • The good news is I have not heard anyone say they wouldn’t read it based on the title. I am sure they are out there–regular readers that are not part of blogging–but I think the ones that matter will read it in the long run. I hope you like it, Tammy!

  2. I can’t wait to read this book… It sounds so good!! I love tough subject contemporaries and I love reading about male m/c’s. I totally agree agree with Tammy, this was a very ballsy title!!!

  3. I’m so excited to read this and am thrilled it comes with your seal of approval, Kara! I’ve been looking for grittier contemporary reads as well, so this one seems to fit the bill perfectly. What were the other darker contemporaries you read this year? I’m curious! Anyway, lovely review, dear – we’ll have to compare notes once I finish this!(:

    • I also read Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller and If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch. I loved them both. I think there might be more but those are the two that pop into my brain. I definitely need to try reading more!

  4. I don’t know if I’d be able to handle this one, but I’m glad it was amazing and not terribly wrong! Yay for realistic as well! And while it’s a biggie, I’m glad that the only real problem was the offensive name calling. I don’t condone it and wish that it wouldn’t be unnecessarily put in there, but glad that it was the only issue. Love the review, Kara!

    • Thanks, Sunny. It’s not as graphic as you think it might be. I’ve definitely read much worse as far as that goes and I think the author handled it really well.

  5. I’ve seen this book around, but never actually knew what it was about. To be honest, I was kind of turned off by the title because I thought they were trying to be “edgy” or something, but now I see how it works around the plot. I’d be curious to know if there was any discussion of whether or not to change the title so the book would sell better in libraries or places like Wal-Mart.

    I’ve been on a light contemporary road for a while, so maybe I will give this one I try. It’s funny, reading the synopsis of this book reminded me of a book I read years ago called Target, that had a similar plot.

    • It does work around the plot really well. I think the title is super brave as it may have hurt their sales, and publishers are not known for taking risks like this.

      This is not exactly a light contemporary though. There are some touches of humor, but the subject is fairly dark. It’s about assault and PTSD.

  6. What a lovely review, Kara. I hear you on the “F” word thing; if it doesn’t add to the story, you’re better off leaving it out.

    I have this in my tbr list; I’ll have to bump it up a few places.

  7. Since I signed up for the tour, I was REALLY afraid that I wouldn’t like this one, which would have been AWKWARD. Like you, the only thing I didn’t get was a strong emotional connection. I didn’t FEEL for him, even though intellectually I was sympathetic, if that makes sense.

    Your copy is signed? I wonder if my copy is signed. *ponders*

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