All the Rage is not easy. It’s not enjoyable. It’s not uplifting or comforting. Sometimes I was overwhelmed with so many feelings that I couldn’t read more than thirty pages at a time. I was sad, confused, annoyed, and angry. I did not want to immerse myself in a world where cruelty and shame thrive, joy and hope die.
So why am I recommending All the Rage? Doesn’t this seem like a review for a book I would not want you to read?
It’s because of its ability to upset and challenge readers with beautiful prose conveying brutal truth that I’m saying this novel is not only great, but important. As Courtney Summers’ notes on her blog, All the Rage “is by no means a comfortable read and it is not supposed to be.” How could an honest examination of bullying and sexual violence be comfortable?
No one believes Romy Grey was raped—certainly not by the sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner. Romy was once popular, but after she speaks up about being sexually assaulted her former friends won’t stop bullying her. Branded a liar and an outcast, she’s forced to suffer in silence and shame. Her only refuge is her waitressing job at a diner outside of town, where nobody knows her. But just when escaping her past seems almost possible–thanks to her cute co-worker–a very popular classmate (and former friend) goes missing and she may be Kellan’s latest victim. Will Romy speak up again, and will her friends, family and community believe her this time? In a culture that disbelieves and blames rape victims, how can anyone be protected from sexual assault?
While All the Rage‘s plot is rather straightforward, its narrative is not. It’s disjointed, confusing, and unreliable—like Romy herself–which is a powerful way to portray the emotional toll that rape has inflicted on her. She doesn’t have much of a support system, so it’s easy for her to succumb to self-loathing and self-doubt. She sometimes does and says things I wish she wouldn’t, which means she’s realistically complex and imperfect. Her obsession with the things she can control–like her makeup–bury her secrets even deeper behind a mask and she doesn’t disclose much about herself, even to readers.
All the Rage is an important part of a larger conversation about the shame and silence permeating girlhood, rape, and rape culture. Courtney Summers writes a lot about how girls are often devalued in fiction and in real life, and their traumatic experiences dismissed and stigmatized. Along with reading her other novels, I recommend reading her blog (especially her post about the challenges of writing this book), following her on Twitter, and checking out her blog tour.
On April 14th–the day of All the Rage‘s publication–you can “take the opportunity to tell the girls you know—and the ones you don’t—that they are seen, heard and loved….Use the hashtag #ToTheGirls with your personal message of support and encouragement across your social media platforms.” Please join the #ToTheGirls campaign and show girls they matter.
Alyssa Raymond is a YA blogger for Coven Book Club and its sister site Spellbinding Books. She thanks the publisher for providing her with an ARC of this book for review purposes, and her opinions are her own. Please follow Spellbinding Books on Twitter and Tumblr. Thanks!