Welcome To My Review of Going Under. Please be aware that some people may find the content to be upsetting. (for details, read the synopsis of the book below)
Title: GOING UNDER
Author: S. Walden
Publication Date: 19th March 2013
Source: ecopy provided by RABT for review purposes
"Brooke Wright has only two goals her senior year at Charity Run High School: stay out of trouble and learn to forgive herself for the past. Forgiveness proves elusive, and trouble finds her anyway when she discovers a secret club at school connected to the death of her best friend. She learns that swim team members participate in a “Fantasy Slut League,” scoring points for their sexual acts with unsuspecting girls.
Brooke, wracked with guilt over her friend’s death, decides to infiltrate the league by becoming one of the “unsuspecting girls,” and exact revenge on the boys who stole away her best friend. An unexpected romance complicates her plans, and her dogged pursuit of justice turns her reckless as she underestimates just how far the boys will go to keep their sex club a secret."
(This is a New Adult fiction book with mature themes. It contains explicit language and descriptions of sexual violence.)
*I Hereby Award This Book 5 Wings!*
I am completely at a loss as to how to start this review. For those of you who know me, you know I am not speechless very often. Well at this moment I am both speechless and bursting to the brim with things to say.
I am never too sure what an author expects or wants a review to be like, so I trust my words to guide me and once I get going, I think I'll be alright but at the moment I am sat at my computer with a kind of blank expression on my face. I'm thinking of deleting what I've written and starting again... Hmm... The fact is, this book blew me away, but in a whole new sense.
Normally, I read a lot of Happily Ever Afters. Perhaps because I'm a hopeless romantic and perhaps because anything else can leave me devastated. Perhaps it's a bit of both!
This book isn't your mermaids or princesses or knight in shining armour kind of story. It's much deeper than that. This story got to me on a whole new level, the reason behind that is because in my own way, I caa relate to it. You see, this story, at it's core it's about rape. Not something a lot of people reading this will have first hand knowledge of, or at least I hope not.
When I was just 14 years old, I was nuts about a boy who used to go to our Youth Group. What's that got to do with it? Well you'll find out. but please, if you have got issues with the subject matter, I urge you not to read any further.
So, this boy, he was tall, had dark hair, kind eyes and was a year older than me. My friends had to set me up with him because I was so shy. Well, the story goes that he was sweet and kind, said and did the right things. He held my hand and offered nothing but sweet kisses. I was 14 and sex was the last thing on my mind. But it obviously wasn't the last thing he thought about. Why am I telling you this? I don't know, but I hope by the time I have finished, you will have an understanding of the bond I formed with Brooke, the MC in Going Under.
Where was I? Yes, this boy, he asked me on a walk through the nature reserve that ran along the back of my house. We were accompanied by his cousin so I didn't think there was any harm in it. I said goodbye to my friends and told them I'd see them later. God only knows how I wish I hadn't. As we got further into the nature reserve, the boy asked me to sit on the grass with him, still all harmless right?! Wrong! I sat down and no sooner had I done so than he climbed over me and pushed me back to the ground. His cousin pinned my arms down whilst the boy undid his trousers... I was subsequently subjected to rape. The cousin had gone to hide in the bushes to watch because now the boy has his hands free to hold me down. The cousin started throwing pebbles and rocks at my head....
Once he was finished, he pulled me up and held my hand like it was the most natural thing in the world. I got to my house and when I closed the door on him, I went to the bathroom and found I was bleeding. I decided a bath might help try to scrub the memories away.
I didn't tell my Mom or my Step-dad, I just went about life as normal. I was emotionally numb. I refused to believe I was the victim of rape. I thought I must have led him to believe that it was okay. After all, the word no never passed my lips. But then neither did the word yes...
I had a girl knock on my door the next day and she called me a whore for sleeping with her boyfriend. I was shocked to find out he had a girlfriend, but was more shocked to find out he had 11 girls thinking they too were his 'girlfriend'.
I never spoke up. I told boyfriends that came along afterwards that it had happened, but I never went to the police. The fact is, I refused to be a victim, but I refused to wake up and hold this boy responsible for such a cruel act. I wish I'd told someone at the time. Maybe something would have been done. Maybe he thinks he got away with it, maybe he doesn't remember doing anything bad to me. It is after all 16 years ago.
What has my story got to do with Going Under and why am I telling you all about my personal experience? Well, the reason I guess I'm telling you is because I am here and you are wherever in the world you are and I am safe from harm - safe from people judging me.
The story in Going Under isn't the same as my story, but if you read the book, you will realise just why I had such a strong reaction to it. I finished the book just before writing this review and I was a teary eyed, snotty mess. I couldn't even coax my limbs into helping me up to splash cold water on my face. It wasn't until my son asked me why I was crying and said that he would look after me that I got my act together and went to wash my face and 'man-up' as some people might call it. I pulled myself up by the bootstraps and realised that this book was the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life, one entitled Closure.
Summer Walden says in a note at the end of the book that if you are a rape victim, she urges you not to read it. But I knew what the subject matter was when I picked the book up and was determined to see it through to the end, no matter the personal cost. But I've come out of the other side of it - yes it made me relive the whole ordeal, but it also taught me a lesson in how to just let go and move on. I thought I had moved on 16 years ago, but until this day, I didn't realise what a weight it still was on my shoulders. Now I feel uplifted and like I can finally let go. I thank Summer from the bottom of my heart for this story. Some may judge her for writing about such a taboo subject - but I praise her for having the courage to break out of the constraints society places on us. I for one think that rape wouldn't be such a taboo subject if it weren't for society. If victims didn't feel so judged by society, they would have a far easier time coming forward.
So, will I delete all this and start again, just get on with writing my review? I guess we won't really know until this post is published.
But enough of my story, I'm not here looking for pity. I want to tell you a little about Going Under and why it deserves more than the mere 5 wings I rated it. If only things were rated out of 10 stars, this would still be a 12. For me anyway.
Brooke's best friend Beth was raped and as a consequence of that, she killed herself. She wasn't strong enough to deal with the aftermath. So Brooke decides to be strong enough for her. Brooke isn't innocent in this story, she's guilty of sleeping with Beth's boyfriend Finn behind her back. But that's her only sin. Thankfully, she isn't still with Finn, else I may have stopped reading right then.
Brooke decides that she needs to do something to help uncover what happened to Beth and stop it from happening to anyone else. I like Brooke, she's a martyr, yes, but I like her anyway.
She starts attending a new school and moves in with her Dad when her Mom decides to move to California. Brooke thinks that by attending Beth's old school, she can somehow find justice for Beth and peace for herself. She's constantly haunted by her fears that Beth thought she was a terrible person for sleeping with Finn and for not helping her in her time of need after Cal raped her.
Brooke decides to make the ultimate sacrifice and pay the ultimate price for vengeance. She wants to set herself up as a victim. She wants Cal to 'do her' and then she can come forward saying it was rape. But life is rarely ever that simple.
Upon attending her new school, Brooke is confronted by Cal almost the second she's through the door. It's like she's fresh meat and he's a Bloodhound. He plays the gentleman, telling her that he'll tell her all she needs to know about the teachers and the classes. He plays hard to get but then when he sees Brooke's disinterest, he keeps sniffing around her.
I said life was rarely ever simple. The complication this time comes in the form of the most beautiful blue eyes she's ever been witness to. She could swim laps in the pools of his eyes. His name? Ryan. He's a bit of a loner, doesn't hang around with the jocks, or with anyone really. But that's okay, Brooke doesn't mind that one bit.
Brooke knows it's going to be complicated going after the guy that raped Beth and getting him to like her if she's seen flirting with Ryan. But what harm can it do? It seems to have an unintended, yet good, reaction from Cal anyway. He's jealous.
One day, Brooke is in the stairwell when she hears a secret club being discussed. This club involves scoresheets, sex with virgins... Not a very nice club to be a part of. But that doesn't seem to bother Cal, Parker and Tim. (There are others but I'll leave it to you to find out who) They are the main players in this little club and Brooke wants to uncover anything she can about it so that she can set herself up as the victim.
The problem with that is, Brooke doesn't know how deep she's in until it's far too late.
Brooke gets a job and is pleased when working as a waitress has it's perks of being able to see Ryan. Then there's the fact that he lives in her street too. What a stroke of luck. But how is a girl to juggle vengeance for her friend and the blossoming attraction she feels for the handsome boy with alluring blue eyes?
Well I will leave that all for you to find out for yourself. After all, you didn't come here so I could give you a blow-by-blow account of everything....
[major spoiler extracted carefully]
Summer Walden never intended to write a smoochy love story that has an epic romance and a blissful HEA but... I was actually happy in the end. It isn't your typical HEA, but after the tumultuous roller coaster ride of a storyline, this girl will take what she can get.
At about 80% in I started to cry and I didn't stop until the end. In fact, my tears streamed faster and my sobs were louder as it went along. I was sucked in from the moment this book began but it was here that I was most moved by the events occuring. I felt every ounce of Brooke's pain and the story tugged on every heartstring I own and then some.
There's no way I could write a story about such a taboo subject and like I say, I commend Summer on her bravery for writing this beautiful book.
It's not beautiful in the traditional sense of the word, but it has helped me move on with my life and I can honestly say that this story will stay with me always... as the first step on my road to healing.
It's taught me that it wasn't my fault what happened to me and if I could confront the guy who did what he did, I think I would show major restraint by just walking past him with my head held high in indignation.
If you are a victim of rape or you know someone or suspect that a friend might have been raped, I urge you to reach out to someone. You really should talk it through, don't bottle your rage for years thinking that no-one will believe you. The best time to contact the police is as soon after the event as possible. Don't have a bath, don't wash your clothes. Every piece of evidence you can get, do it. But do not put yourself in as dangerous a situation as Brooke. It's easy to think "It's okay I'll walk away unscarred." But you won't. As a person who has lived through it, take it from me, the scars never fully heal, you just have to learn to trust that it wasn't your fault. If you didn't explicitly say YES then the sex is NOT consensual and I urge you to do something about it before it is too late. Please?
Summer Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a
full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics
textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have
personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams
include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens
included). When she's not writing, she's thinking about it.
She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and
follow her blog at http://swaldenauthor.blogspot.com where you can get up-to-date information
on her current projects.
Under-ebook/dp/B00BW9F36Y/ref= sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8& qid=1363660623&sr=1-1& keywords=going+under+s+walden
Thank you everyone who came here today and a special thanks to everyone who actually read the whole thing. Thank you to RABT for asking me to part of the tour. Even though I hummed and hawed over it for a while, I'm glad I made the decision to participate.
Thank you most of all to Summer who wrote such an epic story and changed my life. I hope that your story can touch even one more person and encourage them to speak up.