Sexual Assault in Lit Week: Reading & Sex Relations

The more you read and the more diverse the books you’re reading are, the more you grow as both a person and a reader. I can honestly say that I’m not the same reader I was in middle school, high school and now in my final year at a post-secondary institution. This became evident while reading some books where the behaviours that I once saw as romantic and appropriate in high school are now behaviours that I see as troublesome.

I’m talking about the way in which the bad boy is romanticized when he takes agency and choice away from the female protagonist or when abuse (physical, emotional and/or verbal) is used as a form of control especially in the context of sexual relationships that lead into territories of sexual assault. In high school, I thought sexual assault was just rape where you’re forced to have intercourse by a stranger. I found out in University that not only does sexual assault happen more frequently by someone you know (stranger danger is actually rare) but the definitions of sexual assault and rape are more than what I initially thought and aren’t interchangeable.

Dictionary.com

dictionary.com 1

Definitions are from Dictionary.com

The important thing you need to understand about either definition is that in order for it to be consensual (where both parties agree to participate) there needs to be INFORMED CONSENT. Informed meaning that BOTH parties need to be consciously giving consent which means that they can’t be impaired when giving consent. Consent meaning that they must verbally agree to participate so

  • a non-answer is not an answer
  • a no doesn’t magically become a yes
  • an underage person is not in a position to give consent at all so let’s not even consider that
  • sexual advances by a person of power (like a teacher or boss) is a no-no because saying no becomes harder when they are in a position to threaten you with unemployment or grades
  • and the obvious being that one person is physically threatening another with bodily harm or/and death is definitely NOT consent

Why am I writing about this? Well, February is Sexual Assault Month and after exploring the wonderful blog called Sexual Violence in YA Lit (and Life), I wanted to do my part in being a part of the conversation. Myself and fellow blogger, Christa over at More Than Just Magic, are taking this week to explore sexual assault and violence in YA Lit (as well as in comics) so that the discussion lives on and that, hopefully, others are informed. Here is the schedule for the posts:

  • Monday: A. A. Omer
  • Tuesday: More Than Just Magic
  • Wednesday: More Than Just Magic
  • Thursday: A. A. Omer
  • Friday: A. A. Omer & More Than Just Magic

Feel free to participate by leaving comments on the posts.

A. A. Omer

Canary

Sexual Assault in Lit Week: Canary

Canary by Rachele Alpine

Canary

Publisher: Medallion Press
Genre: Contemporary
Page count: 400 pages
Source: Borrowed from library

Release Date: August 1 2013

Kate Franklin’s life changes for the better when her dad lands a job at Beacon Prep, an elite private school with one of the best basketball teams in the state. She begins to date a player on the team and quickly gets caught up in a world of idolatry and entitlement, learning that there are perks to being an athlete. But those perks also come with a price. Another player takes his power too far and Kate is assaulted at a party. Although she knows she should speak out, her dad’s vehemently against it and so, like a canary sent into a mine to test toxicity levels and protect miners, Kate alone breathes the poisonous secrets to protect her dad and the team. The world that Kate was once welcomed into is now her worst enemy, and she must decide whether to stay silent or expose the corruption, destroying her father’s career and bringing down a town’s heroes.

Thoughts on Canary

Canary tackles the issue of sexual assault by looking at date rape. I think it does this particularly well because it gives you the full picture of the events leading up to the assault as well as the aftermath.

You can read the rest at More Than Just Magic

Far From You

You Read What? Book Review: Far From You

Author: Tess Sharpe

Publisher:  Disney Hyperion

Date Published: April 8th, 2014

Format: Paperback/Advance Reader’s Copy

Source: From the publisher for an honest review

Synopsis:

Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.

That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong – a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.

Forced into rehab for an addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer – but can she track them down before they come for her?

Cover:

Far From You

The cover makes sense within the context of the book. The premise will draw people in rather than the cover in this case.

The Writing Score: 4 out of 5

Recommendation: Must Read

Memorable or Forgettable: Memorable

Rating:  4 out of 5

Review:

I’m going to make this a spoiler free review because there are reveals in here that I think are worth the first time read for those of you who haven’t read it yet. I really enjoyed this book despite having a weird start there for a minute. Weird in the sense that the book’s decision in how it wants to tell the story might have done more harm than good in the first half but then redeemed itself in the second. I’ll get more into that later.

I enjoyed this book because it wasn’t just about the mystery of Mina’s murder but also about Sophie’s relationships before and after it. Her relationship with Mina was so beautifully complicated and both girls were equally dynamic, different and three dimensional in how they were constructed which was as people rather than as ideals or tropes. I love the exploration of love, the forms it comes in and the decisions people make in the name of it. Addiction is referred to a lot throughout the book as not just the relationship between Sophie and drugs but also the entire culture of addiction which includes the harbouring of secrets and the ever so present and persistent need to want to indulge in the object (or person) you are addicted to. I don’t see addiction explored in Young Adult narratives all that much so this is one of the many reasons why this book will standout and follow you after you put it down. The secondary characters are solid and enhance/compliment the complexities explored and, overall, Sharpe just did a really great job with a premise that could have easily made for a mediocre novel.

I do have some issues with the book that were minor but were present enough to distract me while I read. Earlier, I talked about the book’s format as being more harmful to it in the first half but then redeeming it in the second. It jumps from the present in one chapter to the past in the immediate chapter following it which would be fine if the chapters that dealt with the present were much longer (in the first half of the book, I mean). I say this because it throws the pacing off when the chapter earlier was gaining momentum that would be choked out by the following chapter that dealt with the past (which were usually moments for character development). This was fine in the second half of the book when we were nearing the end but I would have liked the present chapters to have more room to breathe. It may not be an issue for other people but it did cause me to re-adjust for the constant change in pace which took me out of the book a little. Also, first few chapters were doing a lot of telling versus showing in it’s over explanations of feelings, thoughts, facts etc but it was mostly in an effort to disseminate basic information which, once it did, wasn’t an issue for the rest of the book.

Again, this was a fantastic book. Sharpe did a great job and I highly recommend it to everyone.

A. A. Omer

The opinions expressed here are mine and readers are welcome to disagree. In fact, I encourage it! I never believed in putting particular books or authors on some sort of universal pedestal but you’re free to put it on your individualized pedestal because I most certainly will.

March

Black History Month Spotlight: Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved

March

Publisher: Vintage

Publication Date: 1987

Synopsis:

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby.

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.

About the Author:

Toni Morrison (born Chloe Anthony Wofford), is an American author, editor, and professor who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for being an author “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”
Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters; among the best known are her novels The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. In 2001 she was named one of “The 30 Most Powerful Women in America” by Ladies’ Home Journal.

- Bio taken from Goodreads

A. A. Omer

Self Appointed March Break

Hello All,

This month as well as March are really intense for me. It’s getting closer to the end of my University career (assuming things don’t go to shit which sometimes happens in academia especially with 50, 000 students at the University) and I’m feeling the pressure. Rather than just drop the ball without noticed, I thought I’d just announce to you all that I will be taking a month long leave of absence in March to focus on school.

It doesn’t mean I’ll be doing NOTHING related to books (you can never stop reading!).

I’ll be using that time to get caught up on the Harry Potter Read Along/Re-Read as well as the books for Superhero Week:  Supervillains 2014 and for the week I’ll be dedicating to books associated with sexual assault for re: Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.

I’ll be busy. I just won’t be posting stuff on the internet.

Keep reading, my book homies. :)

A. A. Omer