Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: Some Boys by Patty Blount

Title: Some Boys
Author: Patty Blount
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: August 5th 2014
Pages: 339
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought
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Some boys go too far. Some boys will break your heart. But one boy can make you whole.
When Grace meets Ian she's afraid. Afraid he'll reject her like the rest of the school, like her own family. After she accuses the town golden boy of rape, everyone turns against Grace. They call her a slut and a liar. But...Ian doesn't. He's funny and kind with secrets of his own.
But how do you trust the best friend of the boy who raped you? How do you believe in love?
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

This is a really hard book to review. I really, really wanted to love it, because this is such an important topic and there aren't enough YA books out about it. And I do think that Grace's story is an important one that needs to be told. The rest of it, though, I didn't care for too much. Ian did not work as a love interest because he displays some very problematic opinions and not enough character growth

Grace's story, by itself, is what I really liked about Some Boys. Reading about how deeply this rape has affected her, and how terribly the community is reacting to it, was my favorite part (even if that sounds bad). Not because I enjoyed it, of course, but because I think this is a really important story to tell so that people can maybe understand what this is like. Grace's feelings are so well-developed, and I felt for her throughout the novel. She is so strong, and even though it gets a bit preachy at times, her opinions are very important to read about.

Whenever Ian was talking about what happened to Grace, or about rape or gender roles or anything like that, I just wanted to slap him. He has ridiculously problematic opinions. He judges girls so, so much - whenever a girls hooks up with one of his friends, he judges them for being easy and talks about how he doesn't understand why girls let guys do things like that. His double standards are just ridiculous, and his slut-shaming is just out-of-control. One of the lines that pissed me off the most was when he's thinking about the way Grace dresses and the way that makes guys not respect her. He goes, "Why do girls not get that there's a fine line between looking good and asking for it? [...] It's like the people who leave their doors unlocked and then cry when they're robbed. Why are girls not smart about this?" These ideas just made Ian a completely unappealing love interest for me.

I know I should have expected him to have these opinions at the beginning of the novel, since him growing from these problematic ideas to understand what happened to Grace is kind of the point of the novel. But... Ian barely changed over the course of the novel. The only reason Ian finally decides to believe Grace is because he finds a video on Zac's phone that proves that Grace was telling the truth. Because he sees that Grace had told Zac no and that Zac forced himself on Grace anyways, he believes that it's rape. But the thing is, even without that information.... it would have still been rape. He knew that Grace was drunk enough to have passed out while it happened. The fact that whether or not she fought him or not is irrelevant and that it was rape either way is never even addressed, and for a book attempting to raise awareness about this issue, that's a major flaw.

The whole ending is just really cheesy. After the coach sees the video and kicks Zac off the team, everyone hears that it was "actually" rape and comes crawling back to Grace. And Grace accepts her friends back with no questions asked about how they abandoned her and how horrible they had been to her. All those reunion scenes are cheesy and disappointing because it shows how no one actually learned anything from this experience.

The focus on the romance, rather than Grace overcoming this trauma on her own, didn't sit right with me. Maybe it's just because I didn't like Ian, but I didn't really care whether or not they ended up together; I only care whether or not Grace would be okay. I also wish that there had been more of a focus on Grace struggling to be intimate again after what happened to her; Ian and Grace kiss for the first time only a month and a half after Grace had been raped, and it's never even mentioned that that could have been another traumatizing experience for her. 

I'm still not sure what to make of Some Boys. In a way, it was an important read for me, and I loved being inside Grace's head. But on the grand scale, I don't think the novel does enough to work against rape culture and the gender roles that permit it. Ian - and the rest of the town - don't really learn enough from what happened to Grace to really change anything, and Ian's problematic views of gender roles are barely addressed. Grace herself displays some problematic views, too, when she slut-shames her stepmom and her ex-friends, and that's never addressed, either. It was a good attempt, but there was too much telling and not enough showing, and the novel ended up falling flat for me.


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