by Elizabeth Keenan
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Number of pages: 384
Source: Net Galley ARC
Read 8/29/19 to 9/1/19
It’s 1992, and there’s a rumor spreading in Baton Rouge…
When it comes to being social, Athena Graves is far more comfortable creating a mixtape playlist than she is talking to cute boys—or anyone, for that matter. Plus her staunchly feminist views and love of punk rock aren’t exactly mainstream at St. Ann’s, her conservative Catholic high school.
Then a malicious rumor starts spreading through the halls…a rumor that her popular, pretty, pro-life sister had an abortion over the summer. A rumor that has the power to not only hurt Helen, but possibly see her expelled.
Despite their wildly contrasting views, Athena, Helen and their friends must find a way to convince the student body and the administration that it doesn’t matter what Helen did or didn’t do…even if their riot grrrl protests result in the expulsion of their entire rebel girl gang.
When I saw this book on Net Galley I was instantly intrigued. I graduated from high school and got married in 1992, so that year has a lot of significance for me. How fun would it be to go back to that time? Plus, there would be fight against social injustice on top of it all. I couldn’t pass it up. (I’d be remiss not to note that this book deals with abortion, so although it’s a YA book not all parents will find it suitable for their teen. My advice, read it yourself before passing it on to your kids so you’ll be prepared to discuss. This story doesn’t preach any one side hard although it does lean a certain way.)
I was frustrated with the first half of this book. It was very slow moving and I kept waiting for the action to start. The only characters I felt any type of chemistry from (friendly or romantic) were Sean and Helen so I wasn’t feeling the connections I should have felt. On top of that, there are a lot of musical references throughout this book that get to be a bit much. I understand that the author is trying to make a particular point, but she made that point many times over. The references to obscure punk girl bands start to bog the story down. There will a niche group that will revel in Athena’s riot grrrl references, but it’s my belief most readers will start skimming those parts to get to the meat and potatoes of the story.
This author does a great job of evoking those teenage feelings when confronted with a mean girl. Those overwhelming feelings of nobody believing the truth, especially the adults. Oh, the adults believing the “good girls” is such a frustrating thing and this author got the tone in those scenes spot on. But I felt myself looking forward to those scenes and not staying engaged with the rest of the story.
The content of this story is interesting and, believe it or not, relevant to our current social and political climate. And there is a strong theme of girl power and equality that I enjoy seeing in YA books. Those things make this book is worth picking up. It’s a solid read, just not a fast read. I’m curious to see what the future holds for this author. There’s definitely a lot of potential there.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**