I had not read a book by Courtney Summers before ALL THE RAGE, although I’ve been reading about her books for awhile now. Yes, an egregious omission. I know. But we writers have very long TBR lists and they got longer each year and so it is entirely possible to follow someone’s career and still not have actually read her books.
And then came my own FINDING PARIS, (spoiler alert here) and the story of sisters Leo and Paris, a very broken family and late in the novel reveal of sexual violence. A story about a girl who has trouble finding her voice to tell her truth and a sister whose own truths are lost in her fragile nature—a story and a mystery that looks like a larking road trip through Vegas on its surface, but is, like the characters, much more than that.
In that context, it was time for me to catch up with the books of Courtney Summers and to read ALL THE RAGE, which just released this April from St. Martins/Griffin.
Romy tells us right away in RAGE that something is wrong, that she had had too much to drink, that she went with a beautiful boy she’d been crushing on and that he raped her and hurt her and left her on the road.
In bits and pieces and flashbacks and flash forwards, we learn the rest of Romy’s story. That she had told. That the boy was the son of the sheriff in her small town. That she is the daughter of a man dismissed as a loser and a drunk. That her mother and her mother’s new boyfriend love her and want her to be happy and whole. That her own friends have turned against her. That she likes a new boy at work but isn’t quite sure what to do about that. That she uses her red lipstick and her red nail polish as armor against the world.
It’s a hard to book to read because awful things happen and keep happening. It’s an important book to read for these very same reasons. It is a story about rape culture and bullying and class prejudice, among many other things. Here’s how Amazon summarizes:
The sheriff's son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything--friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy's only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn't speak up. Nobody believed her the first time--and they certainly won't now--but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.
With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, Courtney Summers' new novel All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.
Obviously I want you to read FINDING PARIS. I want you to talk about FINDING PARIS. I want you to download the reader’s guide that the Harper Collins created, because it’s truly excellent. http://www.scribd.com/doc/262768484/Book-Club-Guide-FINDING-PARIS
And then I want you to read ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers. A tough and beautiful book, just like its protagonist, Romy Grey.