Review – Almost by Anne Eliot

March 12, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Title: Almost
Author: Anne Eliot
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 366
Goodreads Rating: 3.84 stars
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
My Content Rating: Mature YA (Sexual Assault)

Summary from Goodreads: At a freshman party she doesn’t remember, Jess Jordan was almost raped.


…Almost. Very nearly. Not quite. Three years later, Jess has managed to make everyone believe she’s better. Over it. Because she is.

…Almost. Very nearly. Not quite.

Unfortunately, until Jess proves she’s back to normal activities, her parents won’t discuss college. So, she lands a summer internship and strikes a deal with hockey jock, Gray Porter: He gets $8,000. She gets a fake boyfriend and a social life. 

Jess has no idea Gray signed on for reasons other than money. She also never expects to fall in love. But Gray’s amazingly hot, holds her hand all the time, and makes her forget that he’s simply doing his job. It’s like having a real boyfriend.

…Almost. Very nearly. Not quite.

Gray Porter is hiding secrets of his own. About Jess Jordan. About why he’s driven to protect her, why he won’t cash her checks, or deny her anything she asks.

 

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 negatives:
  • 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.
Almost is a heartbreaking and yet sweet story (a tough combination, especially in this type of book) – it gives a powerful message about the importance of speaking out and facing the sometimes hard truths in our lives. I give it 4.5/5 Stars

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