Author: Anne Eliot
Release Date: 2012
Release Date: 2012
Goodreads Rating: 3.84 stars
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
My Content Rating: Mature YA (Sexual Assault)
Almost is a powerful YA novel about the trauma of sexual assault. Yet the book manages to somehow blend the message of pain and healing with a sweet romance, which I thought made it perfect for the YA crowd. It tells the truth about the pain that can come from such an experience, but it isn’t too dark.Three years ago, Jess was almost raped – an incident that she has thoroughly blocked, but that still haunts her. Even though she can’t recall the details of what happened to her, she has horrible night terrors that won’t let her ever actually escape the incident. She desperately wants to get on with her life – go to college, get a job, do all the “normal” things that others take for granted. But before she can even try to move on, she has to convince her parents that she’s okay. Jess’ solution to this problem is to act as normal as possible – which includes getting a boyfriend. Of course, that’s easier said than done, so she hires Gray to fill the role. What she doesn’t realize is that Gray knows about her past. He is haunted by the night that Jess was nearly raped as well – and he’s been carrying the guilt about what he did and didn’t do that night (and afterward) for three years. And he’s just hoping that he can somehow make up for it all now. But when their fake relationship starts to get real, neither of them knows exactly how to handle it.
- The fake boyfriend. I occasionally wondered how Jess and Gray thought that they were going to pull off the fake boyfriend thing. It didn’t make sense to me that they were going to use a fake name with Jess’ parents. Jess insisted that her mom would look into the boy that she said she was dating – so wouldn’t they hear that everyone else seemed to think that Jess was dating a boy named Gray, not his best friend? I kept waiting for them to hear something or for them to mess up in some obvious way – faking a boyfriend would be hard enough without changing his name (for some people and not others)!
What I LOVED
- The messy truth. A lot of this book wasn’t pretty. After everything that happened to Jess, she’s plain messed up. She isn’t always pleasant and she doesn’t always make the decisions we want her to make. But considering her circumstances, you can’t fault her. She’s living in a constant state of fear and pain and confusion. She’s living with this knowledge that something profound happened to her – something that ruined her, but that she can’t even remember – and she doesn’t have enough of the pieces to even begin to put together the puzzle of that night that haunts her. Jess’ parents handle the whole situation badly – again, it’s messy, but real. It’s unfortunate that in situations like Jess’ the reaction of loved ones can often be to cover it up or bury it. Again, it might not be what we want to see happen, but it’s sadly realistic. It’s the messy truth – a truth that we’d often rather not see.
- Gray. Gray is the type of guy that you can’t help but fall in love with. He wants so badly to help Jess and to make up for what happened to her that night. He’s lived with the guilt of his part in everything that happened for the past three years and he doesn’t want to sit by and do nothing anymore while he watches Jess fall apart. Even when Jess pushes him away, he doesn’t give up on her – he refuses to let her scare him away and he starts to get to know the real girl behind the walls that she has erected. Throughout the book I found myself rooting for this fake couple, hoping that they would break through and find something real.