Cover image for Exit, pursued by a bear
Title:
Exit, pursued by a bear
ISBN:
9781101994580
Physical Description:
242 pages ; 22 cm
Reading Level:
HL 800 L Lexile
Summary:
At cheerleading camp, Hermione is drugged and raped, but she is not sure whether it was one of her teammates or a boy on another team. In the aftermath she has to deal with the rumors in her small Ontario town, the often awkward reaction of her classmates, the rejection of her boyfriend, the discovery that her best friend, Polly, is gay, and above all the need to remember what happened so that the guilty boy can be brought to justice.
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Summary

Summary

Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston's latest brave and unforgettable heroine .

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn't mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don't cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team--the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team's summer training camp is Hermione's last and marks the beginning of the end of...she's not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there's a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They're never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she's always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn't the beginning of Hermione Winter's story and she's not going to let it be the end. She won't be anyone's cautionary tale.

"E.K. Johnston has a seemingly limitless range.... This is realistic fiction at it's best." --The Globe & Mail  

★ "Johnston's clever--but never precious--update of Shakespeare's  The Winter's Tale  is unflinching but not at all graphic in its treatment of sexual violence.... Middle and high school readers will pass this powerful, engaging story around and around." -- Kirkus Reviews,  starred review

★ "Fierce and gorgeously drawn, this is a rape story that doesn't focus on victimhood." -- Booklist,  starred review

★  " A beautifully written portrait of a young woman facing the unthinkable, this is a must-buy for high school collections." -- SLJ ,  starred review


Author Notes

E. K. Johnston is a Canadian author and a forensic archeologist. Her books include The Story of Owen, Prairie Fire, A Thousand Nights, Spindle, That Inevitable Victorian Thing, and Exit, Pursued By a Bear.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Johnston (A Thousand Nights) draws from Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale," and perhaps as much from too-common present-day headlines, in the fearless story of a 17-year-old Ontario cheerleader getting a sense of her new normal after being drugged and raped at cheer camp. While Hermione's lack of specific memories of the assault offer a kind of protection, triggers surface (the smell of pine, the bass line of a song), and there's the awful reality that any of the six male members of her own team could have been involved. Hermione's relationship with her boyfriend collapses, and a pregnancy test comes back positive, but friends like her co-captain, Molly, are beyond steadfast-Johnston makes it abundantly clear what assets Hermione has in her own physical and mental discipline, as well as in the bedrock unity of her team. While Hermione is a victim, Johnson never portrays her as victimized, instead focusing on how Hermione reasserts control over her life with help from family, friends, and therapy, using her own decisions to push back against something in which she had no such choice. Ages 14-up. Agent: Josh Adams, Adams Literary. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Palermo Heights High School is cursed: in every graduating class, one student gets pregnant and another dies. Hermione Winters' rising senior class has already had their death a girl killed by a drunk driver years earlier but so far, no pregnancy. For Hermione, though, this is simply the last year she will spend as one of her school's elite cheerleaders (Kodiaks, like the bear). But at end-of-summer cheerleading camp, Hermione is drugged, raped, and impregnated. There's plenty of fallout: rumors abound at school, and her boyfriend thinks she was asking for it, though her friend Polly stands by her. Meanwhile, a police detective's career is made, and, somewhere, a boy has gotten away with it. But all Hermione wants is just to live her life. This takes many of its cues (and its title) from Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, but about halfway through, this Hermione's tale takes a much different turn. Fierce and gorgeously drawn, this is a rape story that doesn't focus on victimhood: Hermione suffers and abortion is portrayed frankly, but ultimately this is a story of friendship, growing up, and a girl who, despite trauma, has plenty of life left. Hermione pursues normalcy, adamant that she is not a warning, not a statue, not something to be whispered about. Just a girl. And, maybe, a bear.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2016 Booklist


School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Palermo Heights is known for two things. One, its phenomenal cheerleading team, and two, a supposed streak every year that sees one student die and one student get pregnant. As team captain, Hermione Winters is determined to see that tradition broken. Yet after a sexual assault takes place at camp, she is forced to reconcile her goals with her new reality and decide what course her life will take. Competitive cheerleading provides a unique and compelling backdrop to this take on Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale. There are no caricatures, only well-drawn, strong female protagonists and caring but believably flawed adults. The repercussions that the incident have on her relationships are realistic but occasionally seem to provide a best-case scenario to how people interact with victims of rape. Most notably, the friendship between the main character and her fierce best friend is a constant source of strength and humor. Hermione's story traces her reactions to a sexual assault in a nuanced fashion that confronts the horror but doesn't dwell in its shadow. Throughout the book, the setting in a tiny Canadian town and the protagonist's hyper focus and dedication to her sport lend realism to the text. VERDICT A beautifully written portrait of a young woman facing the unthinkable, this is a must-buy for high school collections.-Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter's Prep, Jersey City, NJ © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

A driven cheerleader confronts life and relationships following her sexual assault. When Hermione Winters arrives at Camp Manitouwabing for the final pre-season cheer camp of her high school career, she's prepared for intense competition and exhausting practices. Working with her fierce best friend Polly as co-captain, Hermione anticipates athletic challenges and triumphsnot being drugged and raped at a camp dance. Because her rapist leaves her propped up on a rock in the camp's lake, there's little DNA evidence to be recovered, and Hermione has no memory of what happened to her. When a pregnancy test two weeks later yields a positive result, Hermione knows she has a second chance at justice. Johnston's cleverbut never preciousupdate of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale is unflinching but not at all graphic in its treatment of sexual violence and abortion and likewise honestly confronts the wider repercussions of rape culture and victim-blaming, particularly in small towns. Hermione's is one type of sexual-assault and trauma-survival story: she enjoys all the advantages of being popular and middle-class, and she gets the help she needs so she can continue to enjoy that life. This doesn't make Hermione's journey easy; her victories are earned. An author's note follows, explaining that Hermione's experience is a best-case scenario, providing links for both U.S. and Canadian resources, and offering encouragement to readers not so lucky as Hermione. Middle and high school readers will pass this powerful, engaging story around and around. Adults should be ready to join in the discussion that follows. (Fiction. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Prologue   I start running after school. Usually I get enough of a workout between practice and gym class that I don't do extra, but this week I feel like I might explode if I stop moving. So I run. I run up and down the streets of Palermo, looking at the houses and coloured leaves on the trees and trying to hold on to the feeling that my body is my own and limitless. I run on the country roads, the gravel crunching under my feet--until the smell of pine makes me feel sick and I fly back to the safety of concrete sidewalks. I run and run, and when I finally fall asleep at night, I am tired enough that I don't remember my dreams. One night, I pass the church my father and I attend whenever we're both home on Sunday morning (so . . . about once a month, in a good month). I've passed the church every other night this week, but tonight the light in the office is on. Once upon a time, churches were always open, a sanctuary if you needed them. But the world changes, I guess. I haven't given a single thought to the church since it happened, but when I see the light on, my feet slow down of their own accord, and I am knocking on the door before I know it. My fist sounds heavy against the wood. I am already having second thoughts, but it would be rude to run away. Just when I think maybe the light was left on accidentally, the door opens, and there is the minister, dressed in normal clothes, and looking a bit confused. When he sees me, his eyes widen for a moment before he makes his face neutral. "Hello, Hermione," he says. I wonder if he remembers my name because he's good at his job or because I've been on the news. He doesn't ask me if I'm okay. Instead he waves me in, and shuts the door. Maybe it's because I'm in a church. Maybe it's because this is the man who baptized me. But I'm not afraid. "Hello, Reverend Rob," I say, and the door latch echoes in the hallway. "I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" "No, no.  Just practicing for Sunday. All this time, and I still get a bit of stage fright leading up to a sermon." I follow Rob back into his office, which is warmly lit and full of old books. He waves me into one of the seats. I have just realized what it is I want to say, what I want to ask him. "Would you like water or tea?" he asks. "That's all I have on hand." "I'm fine, thank you," I say, feeling profoundly awkward. I keep finding new ways to do that. "I don't come here very often." "That's okay." He's sitting comfortably in his chair. People are never comfortable around me anymore. "I know how life goes. Schedules and the Church don't always get along, so I do my best to operate an open door policy." "Right," I say. "I have two favours to ask. One's a bit presumptuous. The other is . . . also presumptuous." "Please. Feel free to ask." "Thank you." I pause for a moment to gather my thoughts.  I think of the looks I've been getting at the grocery store, and take a deep breath. "Please don't ask people to pray for me." Excerpted from Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.