Exposed by Kimberly Marcus, Paperback | Barnes & Noble


4.2 19
by Kimberly Marcus

View All Available Formats & Editions

In the dim light of the darkroom/I'm alone, but not for long.
As white turns to gray, Kate is with me.
background of the dance studio blurred,
so the focus is all on her—legs extended in a perfect soaring split.
The straight line to my squiggle, my forever-best friend.

Sixteen-year-old Liz is Photogirl—sharp, focused, and confident


In the dim light of the darkroom/I'm alone, but not for long.
As white turns to gray, Kate is with me.
background of the dance studio blurred,
so the focus is all on her—legs extended in a perfect soaring split.
The straight line to my squiggle, my forever-best friend.

Sixteen-year-old Liz is Photogirl—sharp, focused, and confident in what she sees through her camera lens, confident that she and Kate will be best friends forever. But everything changes in one blurry night. Suddenly, Kate is avoiding her and people are looking the other way she passes in the halls. As the aftershocks from a startling accusation rip through Liz's world, everything she thought she knew about photography, family, friendship, and herself shifts out of focus. What happens when the picture you see no longer makes sense? Told in breathtaking, searingly raw free verse, Kimberly Marcus's unforgettable debut will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This provocative first novel, told in free-verse poems, offers a nuanced view of the ramifications of a rape, as seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Liz, an avid photographer. Marcus captures Liz's divided allegiances between the accused—her brother, a college student with whom Liz has an ambivalent but loving relationship—and her best friend, Kate, the victim ("My brother is a track star./ My brother is a partier.... My brother/ is not/ a rapist"). The stages of grief are well developed, as Liz negotiates the social consequences of the alleged rape, the loss of Kate as a friend, and her guilt for leaving Kate alone after a fight at a sleepover. In one poem, "Distraction," Liz claims to accept the loss, but says, "And except for a few times/ every few minutes,/ I hardly think about Kate/ at all." Liz's relationships with her parents and peers offer poignant moments, such as when she lies to protect her mother from the rumors she hears at school. Marcus presents a thought-provoking portrait of rape and its irreparable impact on victim and community. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)
VOYA - Ava Ehde
This candid debut novel of best friends, heartache, trauma, rape and innocence is a riveting page-turner. Photogirl, Liz, is confident of the world she sees through her camera's viewfinder. She sees the sharp contrasts of life as well as the amazing beauty of her forever-best friend, Kate, "legs extended in a perfect soaring split." Liz even uses her photo of Kate's dancer feet as a photo essay of "work." It is after an argument during the monthly Saturday Night Slumber that Liz's focus becomes blurred. Kate's concerted efforts to avoid Liz finally end in a confrontation when she tells her that Liz's brother, Mike, held a pillow over her face and raped her after Liz went to bed that Saturday. Liz's loyalties are torn and she does not know who to believe anymore. She has lost her brother and her forever-best friend in one gut-wrenching revelation. This is a huge topic handled in free verse with honesty, innocence and courage. This ingenuous style has lent itself surprisingly well to descriptions of relationships, daily interactions, issues, and photography. The perspective is unusually gripping because the story is seen through the eyes of the best friend of the girl that was raped, who is also the sister of the rapist. The verse is written with lyric simplicity and this book will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson. Reviewer: Ava Ehde
Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
In searing, free-verse poems, author Kimberly Marcus charts the changing feelings of Liz, a high school senior whose "forever-best" friend, Kate, is accusing Liz's older brother of rape. Mike may be a hard-partying guy, home from college on a visit, but he would never do such a terrible thing—would he? But why would Kate lie and press charges if he hadn't? As her family awaits Mike's trial, Liz, once so confident, tries to move forward with a life that seems suddenly off kilter. She is bereft of friends, who want to support Kate, suspicious of her brother, alternately angry at and protective of her grieving parents. Liz tries to find purpose and focus in her photography but even her artistic passion seems to be failing her. She "no longer sees things/in crisp black-and-white contrasts—/some things come in shades of gray." This assured first novel is a wrenching coming of age story about an artistic teen who concludes that though "you can't sum up a whole life in a 5x7," you might still be able to catch "magic in a moment." Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—At first, Exposed reads like many other realistic novels-in-verse. A teen with slightly clichéd phrasings effuses about her lifelong best friend, school, dreams for the future, and boyfriend. When Liz and Kate have a tiff during their oh-so-cute monthly sleepover, it seems as if a predictable narrative is about to unfold. Liz, an aspiring photographer in a solid relationship, cannot understand why Kate, a dancer, doesn't plan to pursue her art professionally and why she stays in a one-sided relationship. In the days following the argument, Kate ignores Liz as if she's a stranger. Soon, however, readers learn of a darker plot twist that caused what may have at first appeared to be the beginning of a childish spat. When it turns out that Liz's brother, home from college, raped Kate as she slept downstairs after their fight, Liz's entire world starts to unravel. Nothing that happens after this realization feels contrived; it's just devastating. There are no neatly folded edges. The narrative largely zooms in on Liz's pain and her struggle to ground herself in her photography and gain admission to art school as events swirl around her. As a result of tethering the narrative to Liz's perspective, the ongoing discussion of Kate's rape and ensuing trial are not heavy-handed or gratuitous. In Liz, Marcus has created a sympathetic lead. A worthy addition to any collection.—Jill Heritage Maza, Greenwich High School, CT
Kirkus Reviews
In accessibly poetic free verse, a Cape Cod teen haltingly relates how her brother's violent act changes things. Liz's artistic photos feature her "forever-best friend" Kate, a dancer. They share childhood history and fond nicknames; Kate is Lizzie's emotional core. At a sleepover, they quarrel: Liz insists Kate major in dance in college, insults Kate's boyfriend and storms upstairs. Later that night, Liz's brother finds Kate alone downstairs and rapes her. Although Mike claims it was "just sex," this isn't awho's-telling-the-truthposer—not quite. Liz eventually believes Kate, but she can't offer much to Kate verbally, and Kate can't bear to see her anyway. Liz is frozen, stung by family upheaval and the loss of Kate, which "eats away at me / like a dirty old gull / picking at fresh prey." Liz never places Kate's trauma ahead of her own, which feels as realistically distressing as the ending's lack of reconciliation and the lives capsized by an unrepentant sibling. Well-honed.(Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Darkroom Photography, First Period

I am the first one here.
Viewing negatives on the light table,
I find one and itch to open the chamber that leads to the darkroom.
Soon, others stroll in:
Javier, the Hoopster.
Nathan, the Nuisance.
Brenda, star of The Brenda Show.
The bell rings as Mrs. Pratt breezes through the door,
clapping her hands to get everyone’s attention.
Everyone’s attention,
I should say,
but mine.
Because nobody needs to tell
Elizabeth Grayson,
to focus.
Bringing to Light

I slip the photo paper into the developing solution,
sway it around with black plastic tongs and wait.
The hum of air from the overhead vent,
the swish of chemicals,
and the sucking in of my breath are the only sounds shifting in the dim light of the darkroom.
I’m alone but not for long.
As white turns to gray,
Kate is with me.
The background of the dance studio blurred so the focus is all on her—
legs extended in a perfect, soaring split.
The straight line to my squiggle,
my forever-best friend.
In the Hallway, After Last Bell

The word bursts from my mouth at the same moment my fingers poke into each side of her from behind,
and Kate’s books drop with a thud.
She whips around in an attempt to elbow her attacker,
but I’m prepared and jump back out of her way.
“Liz!” she yelps , then laughs,
waving her hands at my face,
before we reach to re-gather her books around and between Friday’s fleeing feet.
“Just trying to keep you on your toes,” I say,
touching her shoulder until it relaxes,
until she gives me a forgiving grin.
“I’m on my toes enough,” she says,
and I can’t help but smile at this pointed comeback from the Mistress of Modern Dance.
“I developed a shot of you dancing today.”
Kate shakes her head.
“I can’t believe I let you take pictures of me sweating.”
But I tell her my begging paid off,
that this shot is going in my portfolio.
She zips her books into the safety of her backpack,
scrunches her forehead,
and says I may want to rethink that—
that she would hate for her ugly self to be the reason I don’t get into art school.
I take in her perfect, china-doll complexion,
look straight into her blue-green eyes,
and tell her, “Art schools now require applicants to submit photos of the ugliest person they can find.
So you don’t have a thing to worry about.”
Friday Night at Salvatore’s

We’re at our favorite cheesy pizza place:
plastic-coated, red-checkered tablecloths,
Leaning Tower painted on one wall,
a vineyard, maybe Tuscany, on another.
Sal, behind the counter,
white mustache curled in handlebars,
huge belly threatening to burst through his grease-splattered apron,
singing along to piped-in Italian music.
A walking cliché.
Amanda piles on
Parmesan cheese and hot-pepper flakes.
Dee Dee blots off extra oil with her napkin.
Kate uses a fork and knife to cut her slice into bite-sized pieces.
By the time my three friends are finished preparing their meals,
I’m ready for dessert.
“What time should I come by tomorrow?”
Kate asks as we leave.
“I’m staying on the Vineyard for a few hours after work,” I tell her.
“How about seven?”
“Sounds good,” she says,
closing the door on Sal’s serenade.

Most of the kids who work for the Martha’s Vineyard Ferry Service,
in the parking lots, at the ticket booth,
or in the concession stands on the boats, like me,
work during the high season.
A cool summer job.
But keeping my Saturday 8–2 shift year-round gives me spending money and the chance to stay on the island and hitch a later ferry home to Shoreview.
“See ya, Lizzie-Lou!” my father calls from the bridge as I make my way down the ramp.
He’s just Dad to me,
but to everyone else he’s Cap.
Captain Robert Grayson,
King of the Ferry,
Noble Seaman of Nantucket Sound.
Photo Op

I get on my bike and pedal right out of Vineyard Haven until I’m winding down country roads lined with old stone walls and grazing horses.
I lean my bike against an oak tinted with autumn’s promise and raise my camera to catch a shot of a wistful woman,
gray hair in a long braid down her back,
patting sweat from her neck with a green bandana as she pauses atop her ride-on mower and stares out across her big yard at all the grass yet to be mowed.

Meet the Author

KIMBERLY MARCUS lives with her husband and two children near the beach in Massachusetts, not far from the ferry to Martha's Vineyard. She is a clinical social worker specializing in the treatment of childhood and adolescent trauma. Exposed is her first novel. You can visit her on the Web at

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >