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Rage: A Love Story

Rage: A Love Story

4.4 70
by Julie Anne Peters

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A National Book Award Finalist offers an intense portrait of an abusive relationship.

Johanna is steadfast, patient, reliable; the go-to girl, the one everyone can count on. But always being there for others can’t give Johanna everything she needs—it can’t give her Reeve Hartt.

Reeve is fierce, beautiful, wounded, elusive; a flame


A National Book Award Finalist offers an intense portrait of an abusive relationship.

Johanna is steadfast, patient, reliable; the go-to girl, the one everyone can count on. But always being there for others can’t give Johanna everything she needs—it can’t give her Reeve Hartt.

Reeve is fierce, beautiful, wounded, elusive; a flame that draws Johanna’s fluttering moth. Johanna is determined to get her, against all advice, and to help her, against all reason. But love isn’t always reasonable, right?

In the precarious place where attraction and need collide, a teenager experiences the dark side of a first love, and struggles to find her way into a new light.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Teri S. Lesesne
Johanna has seen a great deal of loss in her life. Her father and mother are both dead. Now she spends her spare time volunteering at the hospice where her mother died. Johanna thinks that she has nothing else left to lose. She looks forward to graduation although she has no real idea of what to do next in her life. Instead Johanna is consumed with the beautiful and unattainable Reeve. She dreams of the two of them even though Reeve does not know Johanna exists. Fate intervenes when Johanna is asked to help Reeve's brother complete his senior essay. The Reeve of Johanna's dreams is quite different in the real world. Despite Reeve's abusive nature, though, Johanna is determined to make her dream a reality. Peters does not flinch from the tragic and dark nature of an abusive relationship. Reeve, despite her desperate home situation, is a largely unlikeable character. Everyone except Johanna can see that Reeve's actions are indefensible. But love blinds Johanna to the truth until it is almost too late for either young woman to survive. Here is an original story, fraught with violence and, yet, redemption. Readers who know Peters's books will certainly gravitate to this one as well. They trust her to tell the difficult truths; and she delivers just that in this novel. Reviewer: Teri S. Lesesne
Children's Literature - Myrna Dee Marler
Conservative parents will have many reasons not to like this book for their teenagers. It is about an abusive lesbian relationship; there is quite a bit of graphic lesbian lovemaking. There is violence and death. On the other hand, Peters is writing this novel not to promote gay relationships but to reveal some truths about abusive relationships, including the charisma of the abuser and the neediness of the abused. Johanna is about to graduate from high school and is still a virgin. She has lost both her parents and lives in a garage apartment next to her married sister (who has her own problems trying to carry a baby to term). She is isolated and lonely, but has rich fantasies about Reeve, a violent, unique, proudly lesbian girl from a violent background. Over the course of the novel, Johanna takes quite a lot of abuse, both emotional and physical, but she is so in love and so needy that she accepts it. It is hard not to feel some sympathy for Reeve because of her terrible background, but Johanna finally frees herself even though it breaks her heart. The writing is good and the characters are engaging. Reviewer: Myrna Dee Marler
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Johanna, 17, watched her mother die while her older sister escaped to college, and she fantasizes about a relationship with Reeve Hartt. Reeve's mother is a junkie prostitute, and her mother's boyfriend, no surprise, physically and sexually abuses Reeve. Reeve is hypersexual and violently angry, and she beats Johanna. The abuse in the Hartt house is so public and over-the-top that real-world children's services would have removed her long before the novel takes place. Everything happens too fast here, with YA tropes—battering, drug abuse, sexual confusion, abandonment—in place of deep character development. Both the plot and pace of Rage are so frenetic that there's no time to feel anything for the characters. The only vivid character is Robbie, Reeve's intelligent, deranged brother. Teens may feel set up, though, when Peters martyrs him. Johanna's fantasy segments are forced instead of sexy, intrusive instead of illuminating. Though Peters exposes girl-on-girl abuse, Janet Tashjian's Fault Line (Holt, 2003) and Chris Lynch's Inexcusable (S & S, 2005) remain better choices.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Love hurts. Dependable Johanna is drawn to mercurial Reeve, whose anger-management issues stem from her abusive home life. To express herself, Reeve hits. Johanna is thrilled just to be near Reeve in all her temperamental glory, even if it means alienating her best friend in the process. Reeve eventually turns her fists on Johanna, who remains loyal, lying and cheating to protect Reeve and her brother. Their relationship falters after Reeve's stepfather kills her mother and brother. From there, Peters rebuilds Johanna's and Reeve's lives as they explore their diverging goals for the future and confrontation of their individual losses of family. With very little back story to help them, readers may find it difficult to establish characters' relationships and histories right at the beginning. Any reader who's ever had a crush, however, will understand Johanna's head-over-heels feelings for Reeve. The subjects of sexuality, abuse and loss are difficult, but the author knows exactly how to move teen characters through them and toward a hopeful ending. The look at dating violence in same-sex relationships makes this book one that meets a need. (Fiction. YA)
Publishers Weekly
Reliable Johanna secretly fantasizes about romantic interludes with wild girl Reeve, but it's only when she agrees to tutor Robbie, Reeve's autistic twin brother, that she actually begins to understand just how troubled her anger-prone crush's life is. Johanna has her own set of problems (her parents are dead, and her relationship with her sister, Tessa, has been strained since Johanna came out), but she is still shocked when she reads Robbie's essay detailing his and Reeve's abusive childhood and by the violence she witnesses outside their shabby home. But as Johanna's romance with Reeve intensifies, so does Reeve's abuse (at a graduation party, she punches Johanna in the face). Reeve's home life may seem extreme—especially an act of violence toward the book's end—but readers will appreciate Peters's (Luna) incisive handling of such ambitious material. Johanna is a well-crafted character, and readers will understand her motivations, even while wishing she would listen to Tessa, who tells her, "You want to be her savior. But the way she treats you, that isn't love." Ages 14—up. (Sept.)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Rage: A Love Story

By Julie Anne Peters

Knopf Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2009 Julie Anne Peters
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780375852091

Chapter 1

I locate the room on the first floor where Mrs. Goins asked me to meet her. She was desperate, she said. So many seniors on the verge of not graduating, she said. Would I please tutor this one? A special one who needs special help with the senior project, she said.

I guess I'm meant to feel special, but I have my own stuff to finish--like that damn Film Studies class Novak talked me into.

I peek in. The classroom's empty. Did I get the room wrong? I've been losing whole blocks of time lately, spacing constantly. Where does life go when it's lost to you?
My backpack slips off my shoulder and a note falls out of the front pocket.
"I'm dropping Film Studies," Novak wrote.

An old note from the beginning of term. At the time I thought: Thanks. Abandon me, like everyone else has.

I hear Mrs. Goins coming before I see her. She's . . . rustling? Maybe her thighs are rubbing together or something. Since the first of the year, she's put on, like, twenty pounds. A lot of people call her Meaty Loins.

I would never do that.

The person behind Meaty Loins materializes.

"Johanna, this is Robbie Inouye. Robbie, Johanna Lynch."

Oh my God. Kill me now.

Robbie Inouye scares the hell out of me. He might be retarded, orchallenged, or whatever terminology you use to dance around the truth. He's definitely messed. His eyes aren't symmetrical, or could it be his head's on crooked? The corners of his mouth are always caked with dried-up spittle and he lumbers, drags his feet like Frankenstein. He's not big. I'm five eight and he's shorter than me, but he seems huge.

Once upon a time, slow-moving Robbie would get jostled in the hall. I'd see people cut in front of him, making him stumble. Then came last November, right before Thanksgiving. I remember because Novak had been dumped by her boyfriend, Dante--again--and it was taking longer than usual to stanch the internal bleeding.

We were in the restroom by the cafeteria. I got her past the point of slitting her wrists by reassuring her that she was an idiot for staying with him. "If I wasn't so fucking irresistible," she hiccuped, swiping at her nose, "I wouldn't attract vermin."

"Exactly," I replied. I was late; I couldn't stay to hold her hand. "I'm better off without the asshole." "Too true." I had a midterm in trig and I'd blown the last quiz.
"Thank you, sweetie." Novak hugged me. "What would I do without you?" She held me so hard I couldn't breathe.

So I'm charging out of the restroom, dodging bodies and wedging through the mob of people exiting the cafeteria. Late bell rings and my class is two flights up. Then I hear this cry, more of a keen or wail. I look over and see a blur of skin, bone, and loose spittle, bared teeth. It's Robbie.

Someone had taken the instrument case he carries around. A guy was swinging it over his head and Robbie was lying on the floor like he'd been jumped. His books and papers had spilled down the stairs and one of his shoes was off.

Without warning, he rose up like Atlantis emerging from the sea, like Goliath in a rage, fists flailing, screeching and bellowing so loud my ears squinched. The guy with the case passed it to another guy, then a girl, a guy, the girl again. Robbie went crazy. He started swinging in all directions, clawing to get that case. He let out this high-pitched hawk screech, along with foam and spit, then busted the girl right in the chops with his fist. I felt the impact as she screamed and dropped the case.

The first guy made the mistake of retaliating for his girlfriend, hooking Robbie's neck from behind. Robbie whirled and smacked the guy's head into a brick wall.

I heard--felt--the crunch of bone.

I don't know why I did it, but the case was only about two feet away and I bent to retrieve it. Robbie grabbed the case and swung it up. The corner smacked me in the chin and slammed me into the stair rail.

His face came inches from my face, then his eyes rolled back into his head and he hauled off and whacked me on the shoulder. I crashed, tumbling down the stairs, feeling vertebrae crush.

My shoulder was dislocated. This was before my sister, Tessa, moved back home, so Novak took me to the Urgent Care Center.

The guy Robbie clobbered had a concussion, and his girl a fat lip, but none of us pressed charges. Unhappily ever after, Robbie plodded the halls and people steered clear. Especially me.

"Robbie, why don't you find a seat?" Mrs. Goins says.

Franken Psycho's case brushes my leg and I jump back.

Before I can get a squeak out, Mrs. Goins lowers her voice and goes, "Thank you for doing this, Johanna. He needs to graduate."

So do I. "Mrs. Goins, my work schedule changed. I just found out today, and now I have to go in at two. Um, every day, I think." My eyes shift to Robbie and I see he's helped himself to the teacher's desk and is rolling in the office chair. He pulls open the top drawer and removes a stapler.

Mrs. Goins looks at me over her granny glasses. "I thought I could count on you."
My face flares. She sponsored the Youth Service Club when I was in it, before Mom got sick._._._._

"You're the first person I thought of." The pleading in her eyes. Or is it desperation?
"I-I guess I can change my schedule back."

She rests her hand on my forearm. "Thank you, Johanna."

"Get out of my chair, Robbie," Mrs. Goins orders him. He's stapled together a bunched-up wad of his t-shirt, and as he yanks it apart, staples ping the window.
She motions him to a desk up front and he grabs his battered brown instrument case. It's the size of a trombone or saxophone.

"Robbie, Johanna is going to get you through the senior project so you can graduate with your class. She'll be tutoring you. Do you know what tutor means? It means--"
"I know what it means," Robbie says in this sluggish monotone. Robotically, his head rotates, and his eyes fix on me.

A streak of phantom pain shoots through my arm. Please don't hurt me.

"He has the essay to finish. I'm not sure he's even started it. Robbie," she carps at him, "have you even started writing the essay?"
He doesn't answer.


Excerpted from Rage: A Love Story by Julie Anne Peters Copyright © 2009 by Julie Anne Peters. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

JULIE ANNE PETERS is the author of the National Book Award finalist Luna, as well as other acclaimed young adult novels that feature the universal truths and particular challenges of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens. The spark for Rage was ignited via a "why don't you write a story about . . ." request from a devoted teen reader struggling with an abusive relationship. After repeatedly turning down this inquiry, Julie Anne began to feel drawn to the challenge of portraying a relationship in which both parties contribute to the dysfunction, but where redemption could seem possible and authentic.

Julie Anne Peters lives with her partner, Sherri Leggett, in Lakewood, Colorado.  Visit her at JulieAnnePeters.com.

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Rage 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Don't let the hot pink cover and the label A Love Story deceive you. RAGE is Julie Anne Peters's most powerful book yet. The focus is on an abusive dating relationship and the toll it takes on victim and villain alike. Two girls with their own personal dysfunctional family issues are drawn together by mutual feelings of love and lust. Johanna has survived the death of both her parents and feels abandoned by her sister, whose choice was to remain at college when Johanna needed her most. Reeve and her twin brother, Robbie, live with daily abuse from a drug addicted mother and her controlling boyfriend. She only knows one way to express her feelings, and Johanna becomes the recipient of a twisted kind of love. Ever since Johanna laid eyes on Reeve, she has had fantasies about how things could be between them. It doesn't matter that Reeve practices a sort of tough love with everyone she meets. Reeve punching her brother and giving Johanna bruising kisses is just part of loving someone like her. Johanna knows Reeve suffers at home and is sure that loving her unconditionally is a way to protect her and fix whatever is wrong. Despite warnings from her sister, her friend, and Reeve's old flames, Johanna continues the relationship even as she loses important pieces of her own life. As long as Reeve returns after each incident, Johanna believes that love will hold the answers. Julie Anne Peters has created a relationship that will leave readers with mixed emotions. While trying to understand the power of love, they will be shaking their heads at the same time they are shaking their fists at the actions of characters on both sides of this tumultuous relationship. RAGE provides an inside look at what might drive us to give up parts of ourselves for the sake of love.
bookworm73MC More than 1 year ago
an excellent book!!! i love this book, it made me laugh,cry, cringe and fell pity for the main character. a definite must read to people who dont mind homosexuals. Its about a lesbian fantising about another girl. But when she has to tutor a "speacial" kid in order for him to graduate Johannna(main charater) finds out that Robbie(specail kid) is Reeve's(Johanna's love interest) brother. but when she starts to get to know Reeve, things get complicated. please read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book, and i love it. I feel like im going through the same thing. This book makes youe see the love and hurt that the girl went through and makes you realize things. I think this is a book you can read again and again and you wont be able to not stop reading this. I think you can learn alot from this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rage, well what can I say, this book was a great read. It had me turning pages every minute. What caught me into the story was the tension and drama that increased between the main characters, Johanna and Reeve. Johanna, being the compassionate and caring girl she is, dedicates her time talking and taking care of others. After both her parents pass away, she depends on her sister and her girlfriend Reeve to provide the love and care she lacks in her life. Reeve on the other hand, is a rebellious and independent girl who doesn’t let people get in her way. Behind her attitude, there is a problem causing her to act abusive towards others. Her mother and her mother’s boyfriend both abuse Reeve and her twin brother, Robbie, which led to Reeve’s anger. Once both Reeve and Johanna are put together, they create a story filled with many mixed emotions. Johanna, after having fantasies about Reeve, decides to take a step and start something that could last. She understands how Reeve is being treated at home, so she tries to provide Reeve’s needs.  With this love comes pain, heartache, beauty, and even death. This book has more to offer than a short and simple love story, but more of a story about a strong and powerful love between 2 completely different girls.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I started reading this at 10pm last night, just finished it at 4:51am the next day! Couldnt put it down. An awesome read, it had me crying by the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is by far, one of the top ten fav books ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well-defined personalities, but if e could see some more older cats... The clan seems half-kit right now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(This is to the mokingjay review person, not to the story! Dawn, the story is awesome!!) Hmmm..... your writing is sloppy and has MANY spelling errors. Stop acting like an expert. I highly reccomend checking your review after you write it. Rate: &starf
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Better! I love it! (Flightpaw)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is comming along nicely i do appreiate that you added more descriptive wording and veiws. Ithink it may still be a littke slow but i warn you (DO NOT HAVE ACTION IN EVERY PART) it gets annoying. So, you need need neeeed ti work on texture and looks. Vary nice that you have cat that same age as you cat. But make sure. To have something good for adience. Rate: &star &star and a half of a star. - MockingJay Reviews
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like t! Nice detail and adjective use. I higly recommend that yu continue.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nice story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Chillkit! Get in here!" Chillkit snapped back to the world. She was a member of RiverClan. She was odd. She absolutely hated fish. Swimming was fine, though. Her icy blue eyes shone with mischeif. Tomorrow she would become an apprentice. Tommorow she could get away from her stepmother-Reedstem. Her father, Craneflight was her only family. She sighed and padded back to the nursery. "Yes, Reedstab-umm-Reedstem." She said, the other kits snickering. Four were to young to play-Riverkit, Stormkit, Tawnkit, and Ratkit. The other three kits were her age. Rapidkit, Currentkit, and Greenkit. Reedstem glared at her. The muddy brown eyes would not be very impressive, but her size made it very-intreresting. "Chillkit, I will tell you again, you are still a kit-" Chillkit tuned out Reedstem and went to go talk with the kits her age. Greenkit, a tan she with green eyes noticed her padding over first. "Hey Chillkit, come and talk with us." She said. Chillkit sat down between Greenkit and Currentkit, the blue-gray tom. Rapidkit, the strong gray and silver tom sat across from her. His blue eyes stood out against his gray pelt. "You excited? I mean-to become an apprentice?" Currentkit asked. His mom, Fishtail had taught him to clarify each sentance. It got a little anoying. Greenkit and Rapidkit were both Troutstar's kits. "Well, I am really excited. The only thing I will hate is the clean-up." Chillkit replied. "Thats exactly what I feel like." Rapidkit. The four kits talked untill sundown. Chillkit sighed. "Why don't we all sleep in that empty area?" She said, flicking her tail towards the spot. "Okay." Greenkit said, then folowed Chillkit. Rapidkit and Currentkit folloed after that. They made four nests and settled down to sleep. <br> <p> ~Thanks for reading. Don't forget to comment! ;-D Anyways, I will post part 2 soon. There will be more action in the next part. I just had to explain a ton of stuff.~ <br> <p> ~Dawn
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book.
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MsTiptress More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written love story with a twist.Emotions permeated throughout my body. Every time I turned the page another gasp of air would come from me. My soul tickled with grief.. Yes it was that excellent!! This is truly a must read for anyone, someone going through this type of relationship. PassionReads
Anonymous More than 1 year ago