*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.
Wow great review and timely topic. I’m sure it was very thought-provoking. I’m glad to hear the author handled it well. Anne – Books of My Heart
Thanks, Anne. The topic was very well handled and the story was absolutely thought provoking. I love finding a YA book that makes such an impact. 🙂
Honestly the first time I hear about this author, but now I wanna try one of her books. Possibly this one. I do love when books make you think and it sounds like this one definitely does that, especially with such a delicate topic . . . I also love that you found this novel inspiring, and I’m definitely adding it to my list!
I’ll be listening to Blount’s Some Boys very soon, Silvia, so you can pick between those two. 😉 This one though made such an impression. I’m friends with the librarian at my kids’ school and I told him this one belonged on the shelves. It’s that good. 🙂
I have heard great things about Blount and this book. I am glad Blount handled the subject matter so well. Talking with my own daughter, who is 23, I do think our younger generation, at least our young women, are making progress with understanding and fighting rape culture. A book that handles the topic well should be a welcomed addition to any school library, and maybe can get a healthy discourse going. Great review.
She really did handle this subject matter well, Sam. I have a 20 yo daughter and she’s said there’s a lot of work on her campus fighting the rape culture. It’s a step in the right direction for sure. I’m friends with the high school librarian here and I recommended he put it on the shelves there. I hope lots of people read this one. Thanks!
with the current #metoo, this is definitely a great book for YA to understand that no is no
Exactly, Ailyn, and not only does it press that fact but also discusses how other behaviors should be modified, like things such as “locker room” humor.
This comes highly recommended! Wonderful review! I wish they had more books like this when I was younger.
Thank you, Laura. I’m friends with the librarian at my kids’ high school and I told him he needed to add this title to the shelves. I wish there had been more books like this when I was younger as well.
This sounds like a really tough topic but also very relevant, especially in the times we’re living in today. Great review!
It’s such a relevant topic, Stephanie, and it was handled so well. I hope lots of people – parents and kids especially – read this. It makes discussion much easier.
This sounds like a difficult but important read. These are such important topics and I really like the sound of this one. Great review!
A very difficult topic, Teresa, but one that needs to be talked about. A lot. I was grateful it was handled so well.
I’m from Georgia where football is a religion too. The first thing I thought of when you said that football was canceled, was that people in the school would blame the rape victim for the lack of football. Rape culture is something that definitely needs to be addressed in the country. I’m glad to see that kids have a book that tackles the issue so well. I just hope a bunch of them read it. Great review.
Yep, that’s exactly what happened, Melanie. But everything was handled so well in this book. I really hope lots of kids read this one too. I did ask my kids’ school librarian to make sure it’s on the shelf. 🙂
I’m glad the author handled this well – and showed a male figure working to change. Porbably should be required reading at this point.
Karen @ For What It’s Worth
I absolutely agree – it should be required reading. I’m doing what I can to get the word out. 🙂
Wow, this sounds like a very timely and realistic book. I’m glad to hear it was so well-written with such great characters. That does sound great how the author really explored the consequences of the rape on multiple characters. Maybe this ought to be the kind of book that’s required reading for high schoolers.
I absolutely agree it should be required reading, Kristen. I asked our high school librarian to get it onto the shelves here. It’s so well done and I’d like EVERYONE to read it. 🙂
This sounds like a tough read with how she has been raped, but also great how this book addresses those topics in a meaningful way. And that sounds interesting and realistically how it also shows the people surrounding the victim are affected. The characters growth sounds well done too and it must be great to see the characters stand up for the change they want to see. Great review!
This story was so well written in every aspect, Lola. I can’t recommend it enough! 🙂
Fantastic review, Brandee. This really was an incredibly powerful book. And one that everyone could benefit from reading. I appreciated the way it wasn’t just Ashley’s story and also showed the impact of rape on family, friends and community.
Thanks, Tanya. There’s so much to love about it even though it deals with such a difficult topic. I asked our high school librarian to get it on the shelves. 🙂