Sex & Violence

svcoverEvan Carter is used to being the Eternal New Guy. Moved from school to school because of his father’s work schedule, Evan is never around long enough to make friends. He’s also not interested in relationships with women, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t hook up. He knows how to find women for flings, and at his latest boarding school it’s no different. But this time, he runs into a problem – the ex-boyfriend. After he’s beaten to a pulp, Evan and his father move to a family lake cabin in Minnesota so Evan can heal, both physically and emotionally.

This story is told in the first person and we follow Evan over the course of the summer as he meets other kids, deals with some family problems, and tries to work through his PTSD with the help of Dr. Penny. But it’s clear there are other issues that happened long before his beating, issues that have formed how Evan views relationships, women, and sex.

Evan is a sort of anti-hero, because I wanted him to thrive and get past the trauma he experienced because of the horrible beating, but I also thought he was a jerk. Evan has little respect for women. In his head, he’s constantly putting down what women say and how they act, making me want to jump into the book and call him a little arrogant prick. But it’s not like Evan is rapey and violent, he’s far from that, but women are more of a conquest and he feels like he has them figured out.

But then I had to remind myself that this is a teenager. When I was 16 I thought I knew everything and no one could tell me different. And I wasn’t alone. Many teenagers think like this and Evan is that teenager. He was completely believable, even though I didn’t really like him.

I don’t have to completely like characters. It is easier for me to follow a hero, but if I’m going to follow an anti-hero, I need to feel like a change is happening, like he’s learning, like there is or will be a transformation. I was along on this ride because I wanted to know what happened to Evan to make him view sex and women in this way. I wanted to watch him get past the beating and grow and learn. I wanted to try to understand why he seems to push everyone away.

I won’t tell you what happens by the end, but we do learn a lot about Evan and he is more complex than I originally thought. I still don’t like him, but following his journey I have more sympathy for him and there is growth. We see some of his change through his relationships with friends, with his father, and with the help of Dr. Penny. She has him write letters to express his feelings, and I found myself wanting more letters to figure him out.

I also wanted a little bit more with Dr. Penny. He meets her at the beginning of the book, and I love his trepidation and how she tries to talk to him, but then she’s pretty much missing from the rest of the book. We know he still meets with her because he’ll think about some things she says or he’ll write more letters that she wants him to write, but I wish there were one or two more interactions with her.

I also thought the ending was a little abrupt with the exit of some people and the entrance of others. Some people we invest a lot of time in leave without any sort of goodbye or resolution. I felt like I invested so much in them that I wanted more before they left. And then some people enter with just 30 or so pages left and I didn’t get to know them enough to really care. And I really wanted to care. A couple people that enter at the end were way more interesting than others we saw a lot, so I wish I could’ve known them more.

But this book really is about Evan’s journey, not the journey of others, and his journey is an interesting one. It’s an examination of relationships and how things can damage us, especially when we’re children or when we’re easily influenced as teenagers. There is growth and change with Evan, but there aren’t a lot of answers here. In fact, I have more questions about what will continue to happen with Evan and his relationships, but I do feel hopeful.

This is Carrie Mesorobian’s first book and I was really impressed with the writing, especially the conversations between the teens. She has the teen voice down and I can’t wait to read more from her in the future.

I'm an avid reader and librarian in the Twin Cities who loves to read almost everything but mysteries. If someone gets killed in the first chapter and a detective has to figure out who did it, that's not for me. My recent favorite obsessions are post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. If you have any suggestions, shout them out.

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