Sometimes you read a book for pleasure. Sometimes you read a book to gain empathy and insight into a situation. Sometimes you read a book to heal. I’m not sure which reason you have for reading The Choice, but I think it is an important addition to the conversation we should all be having about rape and victims who protect themselves through remaining silent. The author’s approach is sensitive and her message is hopeful, so don’t be afraid to pick this one up just because the subject is one most people would rather ignore. While this is a topic covered in two of my favorite YA books of all time, Sarah Dessen’s Just Listen and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Choice brings up issues and conflicts that those books didn’t address, including a more complete understanding of the fallout from this crime.
How do you heal from your past when you’re still trapped within it?
I lost myself the night of the party. Just like that, my innocence and my sanity were torn away.
I would like to say that time heals all wounds, but it doesn’t. And I would like to say that falling in love is what rescued me, but it wasn’t. Nobody told me what to expect in the coming days and weeks and months after conceiving a rapist’s child. Years later, my wounds are still just as fresh as the night they were made. It would be so easy to disappear and allow the memories to consume me.
But that’s the choice, isn’t it? To live instead.
**This book contains rape triggers. Discretion is advised.
The Choice came across to me as a genuinely written book, meaning the author wrote about this topic because she cares, not because it is one that the media has picked up on or because it is a teen issue that is easy to sensationalize. She also chose a rather smart narrative structure – the perspective moves between the protagonist’s present and the protagonist’s past which is probably the most effective way I could imagine for keeping this book from turning into the most depressing read ever. Readers will know from the the beginning that whatever went down, May survived her ordeal and went on to have a happy life. The author has done a good job of keeping the suspense of the titular choice alive for the duration of the book. While the prose does slip into a clinical mode at times, I think that reflects the distance that May is using to cope with her situation. This book works hard to present a neutral position about choices while allowing her character to make a choice that she believes is right for her. I think this is a book that can represent hope and healing for any victim of this most destructive of crimes, and if you are not a victim, this is a book that can help you become more understanding and empathetic to your fellow human. The situation demands a mature reader, but, again, this was a very carefully crafted and sensitive look at a situation that I wouldn’t hesitate to hand to one of my students. And guess what?
The author, Allison J. Kennedy, sent us an autographed copy for our classroom library and it is already here!!! How awesome is that? We struck up a conversation on Goodreads after I left a review, and she is as genuine as I imagined. Thank you, Allison! You are doing important work.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.