Exit, Pursued by a Bear
by E.K. Johnston
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.
3.5 of 5 Stars
I have a bunch of mixed feelings about this book and I honestly can’t decide exactly what my thoughts are. I didn’t relate to any of the characters personally but I did really like them. My stint in cheerleading was incredibly short lived and I found it hard to imagine the world this group of teens lived in since it differed so much from my own experience. That said, once I was in, I was hooked. I loved the support of the team and the common goal that linked them all together. Hermione is an incredibly strong female lead and remains so even through some intense struggles. Her friends are amazingly supportive even when they aren’t sure what to do or after having done the wrong thing.
I appreciated this book in the sense that all survivors of sexual assault experience recovery differently. Not everyone has the event completely take over their lives or consume their sanity. I enjoyed a book that looked into this serious issue in a different way than most literature. That said, there were many times it just felt a little too neat and tidy. A variety of topics came up but most issues were able to be resolved relatively quickly. Even the ending seemed to tie everything up fairly neatly leaving only a slightly open ending. It’s not that I don’t think it could play out this way in a real situation, but that it’s not likely.
Even though I had some misgivings about certain aspects of the book, I also really enjoyed it. I was moved on several occasions by the strength of not only Hermione but also her friends and family. I relished the idea of having two loving and fully present parents in a young adult novel. My only wish is that all teens who face an awful event like this in their lives could have the amount of emotion support found here. I’m still a bit mixed about this book but I do highly encourage it as a read, especially for book groups. It’s a fairly quick read and has plenty of discussion material.