Initial reaction: Review to come when I can pick my heart up off the ground. I was expecting an emotional read, and I got one. I felt so sorry for Romy’s experiences, and her voice is raw, honest, and heartbreaking. I still feel like there were some threads in the story that weren’t completely tied (which is why I’m giving this 4 stars instead of 5), but I really appreciated the read. It was beautifully written.
Also, thank goodness for an awesome POC love interest. I really liked Leon a lot.
I’ll admit it took me the longest time to reflect on this book because it hit home on a lot of things for me, particularly when it comes to discussions of sexual violence and how society at large treats young women and women in general when it comes sexual shaming. Courtney Summers has a way of gripping you in the measure of a teen’s emotions and bringing their thoughts so intimately that it feels you’re following right in their footsteps, which is why I end up loving many of her respective novels. There’s always a strong sense of voice, emotion, and theme in each of Summers’s novels.
Romy is a young woman in a lot of pain. She’s raped by the son of a prominent figure in her neighborhood, accused of lying, slammed and shunned by her community. She attempts to find some space to escape, working at a diner and finding a friend who makes her feel like she can *feel* something again (Leon, who is so awesome of a love interest and support that I wish more teen guys could be portrayed like him. Plus, he’s a POC!) But when a person from her past comes up with a bit of information that shakes her, let alone seems to disappear without a trace, Romy has to figure out what she should do in the aftermath.
This book seems to focus more on the overarching mystery/disappearance (which is intriguing and kept me guessing through the narrative), but there are some very true commentaries on sexual shaming/violence that stayed with me long after I finished “All the Rage”. I wish the narrative could’ve expounded upon Romy’s experience with the sheriff’s son and how that came to pass, and I also wish that the ending of the novel could’ve felt a little more complete (then again, I think I’ve had this issue with some of Summers’ other novels for endings, such as “Cracked Up to Be”. It may just be a matter of preference). Even with that consideration, this book had me completely and emotionally invested. There were points where it did hit me emotionally, especially seeing what Romy goes through in terms of the bullying, and how she grapples with her own inner anger over her experience, the people who alienated her, her distrust, and wanting to hold onto that which makes her even the least bit happy (though she finds herself pushing away Leon in unfair ways because of her distrust).
The emotions were palpable and scenario very realistic, almost so much that I only put the book down when it hit so close to home, it left me trying to grapple with my own emotions and experiences. If it’s something to say, I don’t think I know any woman who hasn’t had some unwelcome sexual advance or encounter, or hasn’t been the victim of shaming in some sexual way. I can even name my own painful experiences, and I’ve talked about them in some capacities in the past in other discussions, though they weren’t easy conversations to have.
If there’s something to say, “All the Rage” is a novel that is an important part of a much larger conversation that should be open and encouraged, especially among young women. I think that’d be a huge stepping stone to eradicate the kind of cruelties of action and dialogue that Romy endures through this book.
Overall score: 4/5 stars