I don’t remember the last time I felt this many emotions while reading a book. Not just feelings that went away the second I put the book down, but deep emotions that stayed with me through the day and followed me into the night, creeped into my dreams and left me unable to think clearly.
The book follows now 27-year-old Ani and her journey through a traumatic past that plays a big part in molding her into the woman she is today. When I first started reading the book, I hated it. I hated Luke and I hated Ani even more. I thought she was arrogant, selfish, judgmental and shallow. But I had heard such good things, that I decided to give it a shot. As I continued to read, I changed my mind. With every line I read, I started to understand Ani, like her even. There are many subtle hints that give you deeper insight into who she is and how she became that way. Knoll describes the raw pain of dealing with such trauma with such expertise, that when I read about Knoll coming out and talking about her own personal experiences, I was not surprised at all. The foreword coupled with the emotions that only someone who has been through this kind of trauma would know, make the book even more special.
I had to stop and clear my head multiple times while reading the book. I wanted so badly to talk to someone about it. I ran out of little sticky tabs because of the amount I used on this book. So many quotes just stuck out and I needed to make sure I wouldn’t forget them.
Ani is not the perfect character but that was what made me like her even more. She’s an honest reflection of what a lot of people in her situation end up going through. People have criticized young Ani for still wanting to be a part of a group that did something horrible to her, for trying to fit and doing almost anything to be a part of the popular crowd. I think people tend to forget that she was only in 9th grade when all this happened. She was young and she didn’t know better. She grew up with a mother who told her that status, power, and wealth were the driving force behind life, that it was everything she should strive for. At that age, popularity in school is what most students want. She didn’t want to be ostracized on top of dealing with the stigmas that are associated with rape. Her classmates were already talking about her and calling her names. She didn’t want to make that worse, and I find it hard to blame her. In fact, it reminds me of exactly how cruel kids can be to one another.
She tries to reinvent herself to forget the horrors of her past. Yet, something’s end up playing such a big part in defining you that you cannot run away from them. You move on, but you don’t forget. This book is her journey of discovering that, and making choices that are very difficult. I definitely recommend this book, especially to anyone who is had something this horrible happen to them. May it bring catharsis and also some clarity to your life.
“That would be the most surprising lesson I’d learn at Bradley: You only scream when you’re finally safe”
“Bailey had the look of a kid brother, desperate to fit in, desperate to please, willing to take whatever abuse necessary. It was something I recognized all too well.”
“It was a hard thing to do, apologize, but I’ve done harder things.”
“Moving on doesn’t mean you don’t talk about it. Or hurt about it. Its always going to hurt, I imagine.”
“By the end of it all I just assumed no one ever told the truth, and that was when I started lying too”
“The loneliness became like a friend, my constant companion. I could depend on it, and only it.”