Published on: September 13th 2016
Published by: Second Story Press
Genre: YA Contemporary
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(summary from Goodreads)
She hadn’t told anyone. Not a single soul. Not one word about that night and what had been done to her had ever passed Maddy Malone’s lips. She’d thought about it at first – had been desperate, even frantic, to tell. But then had come the shame, and the intimidation from the boys who raped her – and the one who held her down.
Now it’s the beginning of a new school year and Maddy is hoping that she can continue to hide, making herself as quiet and small as possible. She is consumed with keeping the memories at bay, forcing them down through small cuts and the burn from the end of a cigarette.
But when her English class is given the assignment of writing a collaborative novel about a fifteen-year-old girl, The Pain Eater, fact and fiction begin to meet up. When the boys spread rumors about Maddy, she realizes that continuing to hide the truth will only give them more control, and she slowly gains the courage to confront them.
Last week after reading Asking for It I decided that I was going to take a mini break from any books featuring sexual assault and maybe read a couple of fantasy books instead. Then the next day I got an email from Netgalley saying that I had been approved for this book and I just couldn’t not read it!
“The necessary words felt enormous, like tombstones leaving her mouth. They would change everything: she knew this. Nothing would be the same ever again.”
I really liked Maddy. She was a genuinely nice person who just didn’t know how to deal with what had happened to her. Having to spend her days at school in the company of the boys who raped her is torturous for her and so she has ended up internalising her pain and self harming. My only negative for Maddy would have to be that I feel like I would have connected to her and her emotions more if the story was told in first person, rather than third person.
“The other priority was to not think – it was of utmost importance, no matter what, that she did not think. Because if she did, if Maddy let a single thought into her head, then memory would take over…and memory was exactly where she did not want to go.”
I really really appreciated that AUTHOR didn’t use a ‘boyfriend as a cure’. Instead Maddy’s healing comes from her family, friends and her own creativity through her artwork and her writing. She really grows through the 2 months of this story taking place, through the bullying and intimidation, and allows herself to become a survivor rather than the victim that she has been living as for the previous year.
“Well, that was what she was too – an average, ordinary kid now staring at some kind of knowing…a knowing that was undefined, something inside herself that wanted out.”
I really liked the addition of the class collaborative novel. Firstly, it was a pretty interesting story in itself, but also it really lets you see the personality behind each student as they write their own chapters for the novel. It was also interesting to see the parallels between Maddy and Farang (the MC in the class’s story) and the way that Maddy started to see herself as the pain eater for her classmates.
“The sensation wasn’t new, but it had been a long time since she’d experienced it. It was the feeling of connection – the feeling of belonging in the world of the living.“
I enjoyed this book, more so that Asking For It, because I felt like it had a more resolved ending. We got to see Maddie grow and heal and in a happier place by the end of the book which although not always true for real life situations it’s the one we hope for most.
I would recommend this book to fans of: stories featuring assault, books set in high school, stories with character healing, stories within a story