Published by Simon Pulse on October 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA
Source: For Review
I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!
Ben falls fast for the new girl in school — Ani. She’s brutally honest and totally not like all the other girls he knows. In a whirlwind fashion, they start dating and everything is perfect until the party…the party that Ben doesn’t attend. The party where Ani gets raped but doesn’t remember a thing. Rumors are circulating about the details — Ani was shouting about how she wanted them, that maybe it was date rape drugs, she was wasted — and nobody knows what really happened and who is to blame. When Ani pushes Ben away and starts acting out, Ben tries to help her and is met with resistance because Ani doesn’t want to be saved.
I have ALL sorts of feelings about this book. WOW. What a book. It was a our book club pick and we had A LOT to talk about because it brought up a lot of things. I don’t think that I liked this as much as other people did, as there were some things that just didn’t work for me, but I still think that it’s an important story with good things about it that I couldn’t put down.
What I Liked:
* The POV: I loved that this perspective was male and from someone who wasn’t the victim. I’ve read quite a few books dealing with rape and it’s always from the victim’s perspective, no doubt an important perspective, but this immediately hooked me because of the fact it was from the perspective of the victim’s boyfriend. I had never read that perspective and found myself thinking, “WHY has this not been done before?” because it’s also an important view to see from people who love and want to help someone when they experience this. I thought it brought up a lot of interesting things to see everything happening from his angle — to see her change and the effects the rape had on her and their relationship but to not be in tune with the inner turmoil she was going through. It added a lot to the story, I felt, and made me think of the struggles that victim’s loved ones also go through in trying to help them through it. I felt Ben’s helplessness and feeling like he just didn’t know WHAT to do. It felt realistic and honest and I appreciated the story being told from his perspective.
* The story itself: My heart was very invested in the idea of this story with some reservations with the characters which I’ll discuss below. Watching this all unravel my heart hurt for both Ani and Ben. To see the before and the after through someone elses eyes and see Ben try so hard to help her as she just is reeling from the rape and pushing him away. The story was totally soul crushing because the sad reality is this kind of thing happens probably more than we know. All Ani’s actions made my heart hurt and Ben’s struggle to hold on to her was hard to watch…especially at the end. I felt like it was very evident that the author’s background in rape crisis enhanced this story because Ani and Ben’s struggles and reactions seemed very realistic. It was a very powerful story about that “after” and how it affects various people involved and, for Ani, she was stuck in this cycle of blame and guilt and left with all these questions unable really deal with it.
* The discussion that comes from this book: This was definitely a powerful book to make you think and I loved the discussion that it brought up because it is so, so relevant and important. Ani knows she was raped and she can’t remember what happened and only knows what she’s told (the details which make her look to others that she was completely wanting this) and is completely being tormented at school because of what went down. A lot of the conversation and the struggles for both Ani and Ben are if a) she was slipped a date rape drug b) if she got super drunk and was acting “slutty” and maybe a c) is if she just is a “slut” and wasn’t actually raped at all — all sorts of victim blaming stuff. It was the one thing in the story, and I think in life, that people get hung up on. Does it make it better if it was one or the other? Does it make it easier to handle? Does it change it? Do people feel more sympathy for someone who gets slip date rape drugs vs. someone who got crazy drunk and got raped? Who is to blame? It’s an endless conversation that we even see in the media. “She was asking for it by how she was dressed.” “She got drunk and was flirty and came on to me” “She was drunk but she wasn’t passed out.” I just thought seeing this play out in the story brought up all the relevant news stories I’ve see and things I’ve even heard in high school and college. Fault Line was one of the bravest and most powerful books that really brought this discussion to the table.
What didn’t work for me:
* The romance/development of it: I know this book wasn’t really ABOUT the romance but it was hard for me to really FEEL why Ben cared so much and hung on because I didn’t see much substance to their relationship. Yes, some young relationships are not based on substantial things but they literally knew nothing about each other and suddenly they were together. She said his hair made him look like an asshole, he thought she had legs for days (that and her honesty seemed to be the two things that made him head over heels for her) and then suddenly she invites him over and they are a couple. We do see a little bit of their beginnings but it just wasn’t much for me. It was difficult for me to care for either characters or their relationship, beyond what I knew I should feel, because there was barely any build up so, while I liked the IDEA of their story, I just felt some sort of disconnect.
During book club we were talking about how maybe there would have been more of an impact had the story been about two people who had dated for longer or at least more of a back story for us to get to KNOW them and see that spark. Ben pretty much gives up everything as he struggles to attempt to save her and it never made sense to me WHY. I never felt it and thus it took me out of the story A LOT — despite how important and powerful the discussion from this book was and how emotional I DID get at the end.
I will say I had NO idea how I felt at the end of this book as a WHOLE but I was teary eyed for Ben and for the very realistic and bittersweet ending.
* the length of this book: Okay so maybe it’s not so much the length, because for how short it brought a lot to the table, but it was more how because of the length I felt some things/characters were underdeveloped and it really detracted (including my above point). There were random people that I thought would be more important that were just kind of dropped. There were things just half developed in my mind and left dangling. A lot of the other characters were hazily developed to me, and I know they WEREN’T the focus of this, but I just would have liked to see a wee bit more development in the secondaries. I DID love Ben’s friend though (his name is escaping me) and thought he was one of the best.
While it seems like on paper there were more things that I LIKED about this book than didn’t like, my “didn’t work for me” list items unfortunately made me disconnect a lot from the story. It was a powerful and provocative novel that explored an important and relevant topic that is an ongoing discussion in society from the perspective of the victim’s boyfriend. There were a lot of good things about this book, no doubt, but the underdevelopment unfortunately pulled me out too much from the story and frustrated me — distracting me from what was great about it.