ARC Review: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

ARC Review: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Exit, Pursued by a Bear
by E.K. Johnston

Genres: Contemporary, Realistic, Young Adult
Publication date: March 15th, 2015
by Dutton Books for Young Readers

Format: ARC


Amazon | Book Depository

“I love you,” Polly says suddenly when I’m almost to the door.

“I know,” I say.

Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.

But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined:

Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.

Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.

Heartbreaking and empowering, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the story of transcendent friendship in the face of trauma.

“I love you,” I say, because I really, really do.

“I know,” says Polly.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

This was not my first book by Johnston. I read A Thousand Nights last year and even though I didn’t love it, I fell in love with the author’s writing style so when I heard about this book, I KNEW I WANTED to read it. Little did I know at that time that it was a re-telling of The Winter’s Tale (which I recently read for the first time in my Shakespeare Lit class.) When I found out that that is what the author was going for, my excitement to read the book soared and I really wanted to see how the author would adapt the play into a YA novel.

My verdict is that this book passed with flying colors and everyone needs to read it NOW. I would say that it is more inspired by the play than an actual re-telling but at the same time, the author does an amazing job of incorporating elements from the play and using them to tell her very own story.

So, this book deals with serious issues like rape and pregnancy and in my opinion, the author does these issues justice. Hermione is one of the best female leads I have ever come across. Her strength and her realness endeared her to me. I realize realness is such a vague term but it’s really the only way I can describe her. This book doesn’t present readers with a romanticized version of rape but rather one that is more realistic. The main character is detached from her experience and hates how she is changed by something she cannot even remember. How everyone around her is treating her as if she is fragile and breakable.

One of my favorite things about this book is the way the author writes the relationships. Hermione’s relationships with the people around her are amazing! There is obviously not anything easy about her experience, especially given the rumours going on about her and the way she is casted as an outcast because she is the ‘raped and pregnant’ girl. She has a great set of friends though and her relationship with her therapist and her parents makes me happy. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it when there are positive relationships in books and not everything is hopeless and depressing. I especially love it when therapy isn’t shown as being the worst thing in the world because therapy is actually important for a lot of people.

The reason why this book did not get all 5 stars though was because some things were disjointed including the ending of the book. I think that if the book were a little longer, it would have given the author even more room to explore Hermione’s character and show her growth over the course of the book.

That said, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is an important book and one I would encourage everyone to add to their to-read shelves. It’s not worth missing out on and if you are a bit of a Shakespeare geek or have read The Winter’s Tale, there will be LOTS of interesting happenings and satisfying moments that you might have wished happened in the play.

Rating Report
Overall: 4.3
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Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).


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  1. says

    Ever since I heard about this book I’ve been wanting to read it! I don’t generally read books dealing with dark topics but I think this is probably an important book that a lot of people should read and I really want to give it a go! Also, I love how the main character’s name is Hermione. Brilliant review!

  2. says

    I have read some Shakespeare and personally quite enjoy it (: I haven’t read a Winter’s Tale though, and honestly think I’ll pick it up before or after reading this one. Idk I just find seeing references and connections between two works just so interesting!

    This one seems deeply emotionally and something right up my alley. Teen pregnancy of a cheerleader. Little known fact, I did do cheer-leading through highschool. There’s so much pressure behind it. The added fact rape is involved too holy shit, this read will definitely be an emotional journey. I’m glad that these serious aspects are handled in such a raw, honest and respectful way. Hermione sounds like an incredible MC and one whose narrative I think I would utterly adore. Yes, I must admit her name gives me Harry Potter vibes but I already know from your words that Hermione Winters will be a character I’ll uniquely remember and love. She sounds like those characters who really leave a lasting impact you know?

    The relationships presented in Exit sound awesome (: I think it’s realistic that everybody would react differently and also that Hermione feel isolated because of the new label that is pretty much forced on her. BUT OMFG YES. Therapy in novels I’ve read seems to be this thing that has such a negative stigma attached to it. Like it always is forced upon the MC’s and they always complain about it and usually the benefits of it are never shown. I’m glad that Exit really turns the tables on that and showcases that therapy does do good for a lot of people.

    <33 Amazing review Rashika! Despite your little quibbles with it being disjointed, I REALLY want to read this one now ahhhh.
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  3. says

    I absolutely loved A Thousand Nights, I feel like I was one of the few people who loved it. The writing was absolutely gorgeous. So I was thrilled to hear E.K. Johnston was coming out with another book, and another retelling. The issues contained in Exit, Pursued by a Bear aren’t topics I normally gravitate toward, but the fact that it’s a Shakespeare retelling have me sold. Plus, the book’s title is fabulously unique. I’ll definitely be picking this up sometime soon! Wonderful review!
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