For this month's book with the BoHo Book Club, we have been reading Almost written by Anne Eliot. Due to the fact that I am terrible at only following assigned readings(my English teachers always hated me), especially when getting sucked into a good book, as well as not being sure I can reliably post a blog post every week, I have committed myself to post one or two for each book. I just finished this book late last night and let me tell you, I loved it! However, before I get into that, allow me to respond to the questions we have for each week.
The idea of a contract was a new one for me. However, being able to strongly relate to the desire Jess has to appear "normal" to the outside world, I can sympathize with her desperation to achieve her goal of being able to go away to college. Given what we learn about Gray early on, I can also understand his desire to help protect her from what could be deemed as social suicide. High school can be a very difficult place to exist, especially when you already don't fit in for one reason or another. I can also understand the guilt that Gray carries and the strong urge to try to make up for his "mistake", however, I feel like he should have been completely upfront with her about their past prior to agreeing to this contract.
I really loved how Jess began to open herself up to new experiences throughout the book. Even though both her "boyfriend" and new "friends" were all part of the contract, as she perceived it, it still allowed her to experience social interactions that she hadn't had up until this point and I personally that while the contract idea was a bit extreme, the areas in which she benefitted from these social interactions were, in fact, quite helpful to her. Personally I feel that Gray should have been honest about their past and his feelings for her from the beginning, however, I also understand being in a difficult position like that of having been led astray by the adults you are supposed to be able to trust even when you feel that they are doing the wrong thing and later looking back and having to make a judgement call about what you agreed to in the first place.
I agree with the concept of sending the letter due to the fact that he couldn't be there, however, I think the letter in and of itself didn't give enough inforation. In this circumstance it was done because he was not able to make their date to talk, but I feel like a short note would have sufficed in that regard. When it comes to discussing difficult things, I have always found that I express myself better in writing so I can understand if that were the motivations behind sending Jess a letter. If it had been me though, I likely would have explained everything and then sat down with Jess and either read it to her or had her read it with me present to then discuss it afterwards. I didn't have any really strong opinions with regards to the reaction Jess had to his letter. It seemed to be an apropriate response in regards to who we have learned Jess to be through the course of this book up until this point.
I had extremely mixed feelings about this question. While on one hand, I can see why they wanted to spare Jess the pain of prosecuting her attacker, it also disturbs me greatly that as a result of protecting her, they let this guy get away with a horrific crime. It bothers me because of just how realistic this approach to social issues and domestic violence is; if we sweep it under the rug and try to pretend it never happened, we can make it "go away". When something like this happens, I'm not sure there is ever a good answer. Justice needs to be served, but how long does it have to be dragged out torturing the victim before they can move on with their lives. The educator and mandated reporter in me screams, "Of course you need to prosecute and not try to hide the truth", but the parent in me empathizes with the family's desire to not torment Jess any more than necessary.
I absolutely loved this book. I related very strongly with Jess. I am also a victim of sexual assault and as a result, to this day battle with PTSD and severe anxiety. Coming to terms with PTSD when you have not been witness to severe atrocity is a difficult pill to swallow for many people. I found this book to be an easy read and a fairly realistic plot line. It was refreshing to read a book that did not reek of sex every ten pages while still having a sweet love story present. I think this book could be a good conversation starter for teens to talk about the realities and dangers of assault. I will be keeping this book in my repetoire to share with my daughter in a few years. I gve this book a rating of 5/5 stars. Looking forward to more books by this author!