But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.
Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?
Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.
Language is incredibly powerful. What we say, how we phrase things, the words we use, these things matter immensely. And one of the things I’ve noticed in YA literature is our great desire to cast the males in books as “heroes”. I see reviews over and over again mention the hero of a book, way more than I ever see the term “heroine” used. I think this speaks volumes about the YA genre.
If we have a girl and a guy in a story, we immediately want to jump to love story. Yes, there are exceptions, but we want to go there. And this is a truth in teen lives. Teens spend a lot of time on the quest to date. But love stories have pretty specific requirements, the biggest of which is a HEA/HFN (happily ever after/happy for now). I did not write a love story.
And yet, I’m asked over and over again about my “hero” Ben. Whenever I get this question, the first thing I say is, “he’s not a hero, he’s a 17yo boy who stays.” I know what a lot of people want from this book. I’ve read enough romance books to know that there is a big part of us that wants the guy to swoop in and make things better for the girl after trauma.
Now here’s my truth. It doesn’t work like that in real life. Guys cannot fix you after rape. They want to, believe me. They want you to heal quickly and move on and all those other things. God love my problem-solving husband who wants me to be over this already, it happened forever ago, it shouldn’t still impact me, I need to push forward. But with rape, there isn’t moving on and forgetting. To me, there is integrating your experience into your life so you can continue. But you do not forget.
When we set the expectation that a guy will swoop in and fix things, be the hero of our lives, we are selling girls a bill of goods that will leave them disappointed. Because we’re all deeply flawed and even the very best of people do stupid and insensitive crap sometimes. I didn’t want Ben to be a hero because I don’t want girls to think they can heal from rape that way and I don’t want guys to have an
unobtainable bar set for them. When we write unrealistic heroes, guys look at that and shut down. They’ll never be able to live up to this, so they don’t engage at all.
I’ve talked to a lot of guys who care about the issue of sexual violence deeply, and they almost all universally say something to the effect of, “I’m no expert. I do a lot of dumb stuff. I probably don’t belong here. But I am worried about the issue.” This needs to change. Guys do belong in this movement. Not to “fix” or “mansplain” things, but to come to the table with an open mind, an acknowledgement that we’re all deeply flawed but have the best intentions, and that no one is expecting heroes or heroines in this.
If my book does anything, I hope that it starts a dialogue about what guys can do or say around sexual violence. I hope it starts conversations about consent and active bystanders and the things to say when the person you love has been traumatized. I hope people take the word “hero” out of this and instead start to look at what could’ve happened differently. And I hope that we don’t have expectations of one person “fixing” another. Because it really doesn’t work that way.
About the Author:
I'm a YA author who loves dark contemporary books. My debut novel FAULT LINE comes out
from SimonPulse October 1, 2013. My second novel BLEED LIKE ME will be released from
SimonPulse in Fall 2014.
I am also a feminist, rape victim activist, and romance novel editor. I live outside of Chicago
with my awesome husband and our three small children.
After this post and following along with the rest of the tour, I'm sure everyone will be wanting to get themselves their very own copy and if you go to one of the links below you'll be all taken care of!
Here's the complete tour schedule, be sure to check out all the stops so you don't miss out on any of the fabulous posts and fun stuff!
October 7th - Itching for Books
October 8th - YA Reads
October 9th - Novel Novice
October 10th - IB Book Blogging
October 11th - Fangirlish
October 14th - Novel Thoughts
October 15th - The Bookshelf Sophisticate
October 16th - Chapter by Chapter
October 17th - Mundie Moms
October 18th - The Page Turner's Blog
October 19th - The Story Siren