Gr 9 Up—Despite the chaos of a busy life (dance team, friend squabbles, a new boyfriend) and family life (a strict stepfather, younger siblings, and an older brother, Bryan, who is floundering), Coley, 15, is working hard to act like everything is normal. What others can't see is that for years, Bryan has been molesting her. While the teen is confused and tormented by her relationship with him, she also feels protective of their friendship. Only Coley and Bryan, who feel like outsiders in their stepfather's home, know what it felt like to escape their abusive father and move from New Zealand to the United States. Her shame over not hating her brother and the resulting emotional complications in her relationship with her crush finally prove too much for her to handle. Coley takes tentative steps toward healing, reaching out to friends and family to help her. Scott does not reduce the complexity of the situation and Coley's emotions to a simple solution. Dramatic without melodrama, this title respectfully examines incest and sexual abuse.—Jennifer Miskec, Longwood University, Farmville, VA
Scott (Freefall) delivers another intense and often uncomfortable portrait of a teenager in a desperate situation. Coley has a generally happy family life, does well in school and on the dance team, and she's starting to fall for a nice boy named Reece, who could become her first real boyfriend. But she's also being raped by someone close to her, and she feels partially responsible for the ongoing abuse. Scott crafts natural dialogue, and conversations between Coley and her friends Ming and Noah give the story an easy momentum, creating a disconcerting contrast between Coley's "normal" outside environment and her inner agony. The thought of sharing a secret so deeply buried is inconceivable to Coley, who actively relies on denial to cope. The identity of the perpetrator is clumsily telegraphed and "revealed" to readers much too late, but Scott handles Coley's confusion over her own body's reactions to the assaults and her conflicted love for her abuser with subtlety and sensitivity. Coley's final acceptance that she has been victimized delivers a powerful and hopeful conclusion. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Oct.)
"Live Through This is by turns harrowing, sad, funny, and romantic. I couldn't put it down."
Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss
"Intensely emotional and beautifully crafted, I savored every word."
Amanda Grace, author of In Too Deep
"An honest and realistic portrayal of what it is to live with secrets and shame." –Jo Knowles, author of Lessons From a Dead Girl
Though her life may appear perfect from the outside, seemingly upbeat dance team member Coley struggles daily to maintain that carefully constructed fa?ade. It is not until her relationship with cute saxophone player, Reece, heats up that Coley finds her world begins to implode. With the entire family gathered for the holidays, Coley cannot avoid her past. She cannot pretend that the abuse was just a figment of her imagination; and when Reece touches her, she cannot help but freeze as her body confuses him with the one person who should never have violated her. Coley finds herself lying to friends, her boyfriend, and worst of all, other members of her family. As she begins to fear for her younger sister, though, Coley finds she may not be able to keep quiet any longer. The introductory notes from author Mindi Scott tell readers that, having gone through a similarly traumatic experience in her formative years, she felt the need to write a story that dealt, not only with the physical repercussions of sexual abuse, but also the mental turmoil, especially in a situation where the victim may feel severely conflicted emotions. Scott is certainly successful. Readers will find themselves utterly compelled as Coley deals with the confusion of hating this forbidden relationship, but feeling betrayed by her own body’s positive reactions. Teens dealing with similar abusive situations or those who seek out books like Pelzer’s A Child Called It (Health Communications, 1995) will find themselves unable to put this book down. Ages 15 to 18.
Dance-team prestige, loyal friends, affluent Seattle family--Coley, 15, seems to have it all, but her sunny persona hides a private, nighttime dread. Coley's blossoming romance with Reece makes it harder to separate those worlds, and her gift for walling off the unpleasant--like the rift with her longtime best friend, Alejandra--isn't working. With her overprotective mother and stepfather, ally and troubled older brother, Bryan, and younger triplet half siblings, Coley feels smothered, not safe. When Reece is permitted to join the family ski trip to Whistler, B.C., Coley finds that her childhood strategy of quiet endurance, rather than preventing the abuse, enables it to escalate. What makes this more than another "problem" novel is the author's steadfast refusal to deal in stereotypes and easy answers. Coley's more than the victim of sexual abuse--just as her abuser is more than a collection of abusive behaviors. Who we are and what we do are different things. Oversimplifying character motivations would have made this a less harrowing read but also a less powerful one. Unraveling her thicket of tangled emotions is a confusing and painful journey for Coley, but the bedrock truth she uncovers sustains her: Freedom from molestation is a human right. Required reading for anyone who's ever wondered "why didn't they just tell someone?" (resources [not seen]) (Fiction. 14 & up)