Grace has been ostracized by her school because she spoke out about the jock who raped her at a party. Tormented by her peers and ignored by the administration, Grace continues to face the world, feeling alone. Then she’s forced to spend time with Ian as part of a school punishment, and she realizes that he might be different. But how can he be when he’s the best friend of the boy who raped her?
It’s important to note that although this book seems to be framed as a romance with Serious Issues thrown in, it’s really much more than that. The book has romantic aspects to it, for sure, but it’s mostly about a girl who was raped and instead of becoming the victim of sexual assault that she is, she becomes the villain. It’s about rape culture and how it permeates every aspect of our lives. It’s also a pretty great piece of fiction that should appeal to teens across the board.
What works well here is that both Grace and Ian are well-developed characters with authentic, realistic narration. Told in alternating chapters, it’s clear who’s talking on every page, and both characters are given ample time and consideration to develop as fully-realized people. Less successful are some of the tertiary characters who come off a bit flat, but the nuanced portrayal of both teens’ relationships with their parents helps counteract the less dynamic characters.
Although the novel doesn’t delve as deep into some of the issues as it could, it still packs an emotional punch that will both stay with readers long after they’ve finished the novel as well as keep them turning the pages. A few missteps–there’s a bit where Grace dons a niqab as part of a protest, which offends a Muslim student–don’t derail the rest of the novel, which offers a nuanced view of a complex issue. And although the end of the novel teeters on the edge of the unbelievable, readers should find it ultimately satisfying.
A strong novel about important stuff. It’s timely, it’s authentic, and it’s perfect for teens. Recommended.
Some Boys by Patty Blount. Sourcebooks Fire: 2014. Library copy.