Courtney Summers' new novel, All The Rage, is out today and it's a difficult, important book that you need to pay attention to.
Al The Rageis an indictment of a culture that shames and silences girls when they need support the most, that tells them that they are not valued; this is the culture that creates the Steubenvilles. (Let's be honest, Steubenville is not one place, it is everywhere.)
Romy carefully manicures her nails and applies her perfect lipstick as armor against a community that's rejected her. They rejected her because she dared tell the truth about the sheriff's son raping her at a party. She's a pariah, and people excuse the boy, Kellan, because Romy had a crush on him, because he "had so much going for him," being the town gold boy and all. The narrative in Romy's town is that she ruined Kellan's life by speaking up, and the adults--who should have been supporting Romy--are complicit in perpetuating this narrative.
This is a book that will validate the experiences of many girls, in a world where they often go without the support they need. But it's also a book adults and boys should read. I believe wholeheartedly that empathy can be nurtured and the experience of reading Romy's story and understanding that she could be any girl in any town is one way to nurture empathy for the struggles of today's girls. I fully realize that it is far more difficult in many ways to be a young woman now that when I was 16, 17, 18, 19 in the 1990s.
Beyond the importance of the story Courtney is telling, I wanted to comment on how her writing has developed over the years. She's always been excellent at stripping her stories down to their emotional cores, but in this book--as well as in This is Not a Test--her writing has developed in an impressive way. It's an impressive balance of tight, sparse prose in which no word is wasted. and yet there's also a subtly evocative quality to her writing. It's good stuff.
Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher. Also, sometimes I chat with Courtney about important subjects like the final five minutes of Furious 7 and pizza.