Monday, April 20, 2020

REVIEW: ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers

Shel: I was up until 1:30 last night/this morning finishing and thinking about All the Rage. My brain just kept turning over all of the THINGS that this novel immersed me in. This novel feels so important to me--what it says to be a girl/woman/female in this world is so horrifying and true. The daily slights, comments, condescending pats on the head, the fear of being alone in a dark and unfamiliar place--or even a well lit one--the subtle and direct comments about who you are or what you can do because you are a woman in the world, and the actions men feel they have a right to perpetrate...this novel brought all of that to the surface. 

Romy, our heroine, is living in the constant swirling current of what life has become in the "after" stage of what Kellen Turner has done. Her life is one full of slights, of weighing every action and word that comes to her or from her for what they mean. She lives as the pariah of her school and her community. She's the liar. The joke. The trouble maker. She lives this every day while also living as Romy--a daughter who loves her mother and wants to protect her (PROTECT her!) from what her life is really like, a daughter who works hard to make the people she cares about comfortable while she's suffering. Romy lives a life suspended in the before and after; she lives trying to shed her old skin and wear this new one in the best way she can while being constantly confronted with the old and the new. It's a wonder she didn't split wide open or explode one day on the sidewalk--she was carrying so much pain and hurt and shame and anger and yet still functioning and attending to the necessary jobs you must as a daughter, student, worker, friend, and enemy. 

In the midst of all of this functioning, a girl (Penny) goes missing and Romy is closely tied to this case, for various reasons. As the search for Penny intensifies, the scrutiny Romy feels--because of what happened the night Penny went missing and how Romy is associated with it--also intensifies. The memories and whisperings and gossip of that night come in more and more horrifying waves until the final revelation comes out and all we're left with is mindnumbing disgust and deep sadness. 

While I could go on and on about how repulsive many of the people and their actions or lack of action were in this novel (and how true that felt too), I think it's important to take a minute to discuss some of the characters who were bright spots: Leon, Caro, Leanne, and Todd, and Romy's mom, Alice. I thought each of these characters were perfectly imperfect; they enhanced how we came to know Romy. They were warm and honest and kind. They saw Romy and wanted good things for her. No matter how challenging she was or how prickly she would come off, they didn't let her go. I loved that they pushed back or let certain things roll of their backs--but they never let her go. 

It's taking me hours to get this far in this review; I find it hard to commit words to this review because I don't want to fail this book. It was so compelling. The observations of Romy and all of the interactions between characters-from the smallest things to the biggest-felt incredibly realistic and I know without a doubt that girls and women walk around feeling these exact same emotions. They've had to split themselves into various pieces and parts to be able to function in the world and grapple with who they are now-- before and after. 

Another thing that I appreciated about this novel was that it was never prettied up or overly dramatized and the ending didn't offer cliched solutions or loose ends all tied off in pretty bows. We're left with some answers, some conclusions and lots of questions and wonderings and what ifs...

It'd be easy for me to walk away from this and feel hopeless and helpless but Courtney Summers gives us a Romy at the end who takes a chance..refuses to be helpless and because of that, there is hope. 

ETA: I read and wrote this review about five years ago. It feels as relevant as ever.


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.

Post a Comment

Comments are bloggy food.

Feed our blog...

© Must Read Books or Die. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.