Title: All the Rage
Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication date: April 14, 2015
I am in love with Courtney Summers’ writing. I may be in love with Courtney Summers herself. This is a moot point. Her book This is Not a Test is arguably one of the best zombie books not about zombies ever written, and Cracked Up to Be is the definition of a meaningful YA read. So on the day All the Rage came out, I ran, not walked, to the bookstore to pick it up. And let me tell you, this did NOT disappoint.
One thing I need to mention: there is a major trigger warning for rape and sexual assault, both in the book and in this review. If these issues are triggering, you may want to steer clear.
But first, before I get further into why I’m in love with this book – have this short summary from Courtney Summers’ website:
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 past there. 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.
The book starts with Romy under attack. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s happening – the whole story only comes together later through inferences and flashbacks. The poetic way that it’s told is fragmented, much like quick snapshots of an event that you see over and over in your dreams. It’s gritty, and gripping, and is as beautiful to read as it is painful.
Then the story skips to weeks later. You find out that justice did not prevail. Because when Romy speaks up, no one believes her. She’s shunned and slut-shamed by both strangers and people that she trusted to side with her through anything. At the same time, if she keeps it secret, she doesn’t have to deal with the shame of what happened, or the stares and the pity of people who know – but she does have to worry about what might happen to another innocent girl.
This is a very real take on sexual assault. Romy gets a job, falls in love, tries to “move on” with her life – but still clearly shows the signs of post-traumatic stress. Because when something like that happens to you, you can’t just put it behind you. Effects will linger, and there’s nothing you can do to stop that. Romy faces the very real struggle of balance and how to let the past influence – but not define – her.
Also stunningly well-timed is the fact that the perpetrator is the sheriff’s son. The police force in Romy’s town, then, do little to help her, because if they even care to do so, they’ll face consequences. White misogyny through the police force prevails, which has become a frustrating part of American life even outside this book.
So many times while reading this, I wanted to scream. I wanted to scream for Romy, for girls like her who were sexually assaulted and never received closure, for girls who are shamed for their clothes and their personal choices, for girls who grow up in a world where every day is a fight to survive just because of their gender. As Courtney Summers tweeted:
I write about girls all my fiction is survival fiction
— courtney summers (@courtney_s) September 1, 2014
This is the book that the feminist generation needs to be reading. All the Rage tells a story that needs to be told and needs to be taken seriously. At the same time, the book isn’t just a social justice tirade. It has a heart, and tells Romy’s story with both delicacy and power. I have faith that not a single reader of All the Rage will be disappointed. I also have faith that with the prevalence of books like these, our world can become a better and more understanding place to be a girl.
5 out of 5 stars.