*I received a free copy of Someone I Used to Know from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 7, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
TRIGGER WARNING: Boys will be boys is never an excuse.
It’s been two years since the night that changed Ashley’s life. Two years since she was raped by her brother’s teammate. And a year since she sat in a court and watched as he was given a slap-on-the-wrist sentence. But the years have done nothing to stop the pain or lessen the crippling panic attacks that make her feel like she’s living a half-life.
It’s been two years of hell for Derek. His family is totally messed up and he and his sister are barely speaking. He knows she partially blames him for what happened, and totally blames him for how he handled the aftermath. Now at college, he has to come to terms with what happened, and the rape culture that he was inadvertently a part of that destroyed his sister’s life.
When it all comes to a head at Thanksgiving, Derek and Ashley have to decide if their relationship is able to be saved. And if their family can ever be whole again.
Every once in awhile a young adult book comes along that is so profound I want to shout from the rooftop about its greatness. Someone I Used to Know is such a book. Revolving around rape culture in America, it depicts the impact of rape on the victim, the victim’s family, and the community. Blount did this in a way that was relevant, meaningful, and packed an emotional punch.
Ashley, a high school freshman at the time, was raped. By a senior football player. In an effort to score points in a “game” the players historically participated in during homecoming week. Following the rape, the football program was cancelled. Now, two years later, it’s been re-instituted with a new coach. Ashley must decide how to deal with the feelings this evokes. She has to decide if she’s going to continue being a victim or fight back.
One of the things I most appreciated about Someone I Used to Know was how accurately Blount portrayed the football culture. Being from Texas (originally) I understand that it’s a form of religion in a large part of the U.S. and the players and coaches are deified. They’re also excused of a lot with the “boys will be boys” justification. While Blount provided statistics showing sexual assault and rape is more prevalent during the football season, especially on college campuses, she also showed how rape culture is ingrained in so many elements of our society. She offered a broader definition of rape culture, how many of us don’t think twice about some things (like jokes or advertisements), and things we can do to try to affect change.
Blount’s portrayal of how rape affects not only the victim but others as well is the other thing I most admired about this story. She drew these amazing and flawed characters in Ashley, her brothers and parents, and her friends. She detailed how the rape and its aftermath affected them all, as well as the community. And then Blount developed them so richly – ALL of them – to show their emotional growth and the way they determined to deal, in a healthy way, with all they’d been struggling with.
The character growth in Ashley and her brother, Derek, was most meaningful since they’d been close when they were younger but had drifted apart in recent years and then were torn apart following the rape. Ashley was so strong despite not considering herself that way. She chose to be a part of the change she wanted to see, to stand up for herself and others. Derek also chose to affect change. I liked that the ways in which he chose to do it were ways that would help Ashley, and others like her, but he did these things for himself…to prove, if only to himself, he was a better man. It was profound and a profoundly inspiring experience.
Someone I Used to Know was my first read from Blount but it WILL NOT be my last. (In fact I already have Some Boys lined up.) It’s a book everyone should read because it’ll make you think. And I hope, if you do read it, you’ll find it as inspiring as I did.