Publication Date: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Teens
Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don't cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team's summer training camp is Hermione's last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black. In every class, there's a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They're never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she's always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn't the beginning of Hermione Winter's story and she's not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.
I remember seeing this book and being intrigued by the title and the cover but I never read the synopsis. But this is a book where I wish I would have taken a chance sooner. This book covers a topic that most find hard to discuss but is important to talk about nonetheless.
In the story we follow, Hermione Winters, co-captain of the Palermo Heights cheerleading team, currently in a relationship, has great friends, good parental support but all that changes when one night of cheer camp, someone slips something into her drinks and rapes her. Living with the possibility of being pregnant, Winters must make a decision that could potentially affect her future.
I can't really talk on what it feels like in having to make a decision as the one Hermione has to make. But I do have to commend her decision. As a guy I can never know the feeling of getting pregnant and of having to make a decision of keeping the child. However, the lasting impact that someone must live with, the emotions, the feeling, and the knowledge of getting raped is something I hope never have to experience nor would I ever want anyone to experience.
The story moved in a way that even though the topic of the book is hard it was a light read. And I think that teens are able to connect with this book in an empathetic way. I know from personal experiences what friends go through with this ordeal. How much weight is on their shoulders is beyond comparison I think to most things.
I did find myself at crossroads with Polly coming out to Hermione. I am not sure what to think of Hermione all of a sudden feeling nauseous when thinking of Polly touching her in knowing of Polly's recent coming out. I can't fully wrap my head around the idea of this sudden feeling and find it hard not to find it comical. Does she not trust her friend? Does she think that may have been the one to rape her?
The book ends on a good note, at least for me, where Hermione is able to find a lead in who raped her. I think this is an important read for teens, as mentioned above, but not in the sense that everyone who has faced an ordeal like Hermione will have the same support, the same end, etc. I am glad to have read this book. I am excited to see what else this author has to write and if there are any other authors tackle a topic in the same brilliant way as Johnston.
I give this book 5 souls!