Book Review: Ever Since by Alena Bruzas
An intense, beautiful debut about the power of finding your voice and sharing your story after trauma. Perfect for fans of Nina LaCour and Kathleen Glasgow.
Seventeen-year-old Virginia makes bad choices. In fact, she’s That Kind of Girl, according to the whispers. But as long as she has her tight group of best friends by her side, she’s able to ignore the gossipers. Until she finds herself spending time with Rumi, Poppy’s boyfriend. Breaking with tradition, she doesn’t hook up with Rumi. Worse, she falls in love with him.
While Virginia and Rumi’s relationship grows in secret, she discovers that his little sister, Lyra, is being groomed for abuse. The soon-to-be-abuser is a respected member of the community, and only Virginia knows who he is and what he does. If she stays quiet, Lyra will become a victim. But coming forward feels equally impossible.
Content warning: sexual assault and child sexual abuse
This book is a gut punch. It’s an absolutely brutal read, one where I had to skim parts because it was just too awful. Virginia basically lives her whole life coping with and hiding from what has happened to her. Someone has been sexually abusing her—abused her when she was younger—Him. That’s all she can bring herself to refer to him as: Him. It’s messed her up, understandably. She seeks solace in her friends and in drugs and alcohol. But her once formerly super tight group of 5 has splintered. Poppy (Virgina’s Best best friend) suddenly left, to go live with her grandpa, and won’t talk to anyone. The other girls are pulling away, struggling to understand Virginia’s behavior, and harboring secrets of their own, too. And now Virginia sees Him grooming a friend’s 11-year-old sister. She has to speak up. She has to finally unburden herself of this terrible secret, this horrible thing. And when she does, when she shares who He is, I gasped out loud. And kept gasping.
There are those who will not be able to handle reading this book, for all kinds of reasons (including, I’m sure, people who will get caught up in passing judgement on Virginia and all of her choices). But for those who can take the heaps and heaps of pain and trauma laid out here, they will find a devastating book beautifully written, an empowering book about speaking your truth, about solidarity, friendship, and about hope in even the very worst of times. A tough read that will linger for a long time in readers’ minds.
Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 05/23/2023
Age Range: 14 – 17 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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