The book Exit, Pursued By A Bear is about a girl named Hermione WInters who is a captain for her cheerleading team, in tiny Palermo Heights. Her team and her went to a summer training camp, Hermione is a senior meaning this will be her last time. She knows that this season could possibly make her a legend for her school, so she wants it to be perfect. But during a camp party, someone slips something into her drink and she blacks out.
This is something horrible, because in every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pregnant girl. They are never the same person. Hermione gets raped and rumors start to spread in their small town. She however tries to regain the control she’s always had. She has to make extremely hard decisions to move on. Her being attacked isn’t the beginning of Hermione Winters, and she most definitely isn’t going to let it be the end.
It’s not a typical story of a girl who gets raped and is consumed by it. Those stories definitely do matter, and are so important. But there are also so many different experiences, and I’m glad that E.K. Johnston wrote about this one. Hermione is sad, confused and angry, but this is predominantly a book about strength. In my experience the stories about victims being raped fall into a few categories: 1) the rapist is a mystery and they try to catch them, 2) the victims fall apart after them being raped, or 3) the victim goes missing and they don’t know where they are. This is neither. Most stories about rape, are mostly about the weakness and the pain, although this story shows the weaknesses and the pain, yet it’s not really about them – It’s about supportive family, good friends, and strength.
Weaknesses and more strengths
Some might think that there wasn’t enough realism. I could agree that there were some characters that reacted too perfectly. Although people react differently and could have a stronger support system than others, it could still seem unrealistically to some. But what I think that Hermione is trying to prove to others, is that being raped does not mean you have to change. Yes, being attacked and assaulted is such a big matter and is so important! But then again, that shouldn’t have to define you, and it most definitely does not mean you should change who you were before. She doesn’t want to be known as “the raped girl”. Of course, people have every right to be angry, upset, traumatized and want to catch the rapist.
But here’s where Hermione’s story comes into place. She doesn’t know what happened during the night that she got raped. She doesn’t know who it was, which explains why she doesn’t know how to react and why she wants to move past it. I understand why people would be mad about this, because it probably wouldn’t be the best choice if it were to actually happen in real life. But everyone is different, and everyone has different ways to cope. Hermione doesn’t want to just move past it, of course she wants to catch the rapist. But she doesn’t know who it was and what exactly happened, which is why she is so scared to rush into things.
If they were to catch the rapist, Hermione wouldn’t have the details as to what happened that night. Meaning the rapist would be let go because no one knows what went down. In order for the judge to make a rational decision, they need to know the details. Therefore, the best choice is to slow down, and let the memories back come slowly. Why slowly? Because she doesn’t want it to affect her during cheer, and cheer is so important to her and her team. She doesn’t want it to affect her during performing because it’s her last year, and she wants it to be perfect.
In conclusion, the author delivers a truly incredible ending. Rape will always be disgusting, and sometimes it will damage and break its victims, but us surrounding them, choose how to react to it and help them. We can understand instead of being suspicious, show compassion instead of blame. Then rape survivors will feel like something less irretrievable has been taken from them, and less defined by what happened. Exit, Pursued By A Bear is a fictional story, this book is definitely for you if you like fictional stories about characters overcoming barriers to get to the main goal.