I despised cheerleaders when I was a teenager. They were the ones who bullied my outcast friends and me. They were so—well—cheery. Didn't they notice that the world all around us is falling apart? I’m much older and somewhat wiser now, so I understand that it’s dumb to assume that all members of a group of people are the same. I comprehend that just because the particular cheerleaders I knew in high school were mean doesn't mean that all cheerleaders are mean. I mean, I try to stay open-minded. Still, cheerleaders. Blech. How superficial, boring, and dumb.
Needless to say, I never noticed the poetry in cheerleading until I read this amazing book by E.K. Johnston: Exit, Pursued By a Bear. It’s a tale of triumph over trauma about a girl, Hermione Winters, who is raped during cheerleading camp in Ontario. I'm not giving away too much of the plot here, because really, this story is about what happens after the rape: How a confident, intelligent, teen girl perseveres during her senior year of high school, having survived the depths of desolation over summer break.
Hermione changed my mind about cheerleaders. Hermione is certainly not superficial, boring, or dumb. The best books will do that to you--make you glad to discover that your opinions are sometimes dumb.
If you’d like to meet author E.K. Johnston, be sure to attend one of these upcoming literary events:
Meet the Author: E.K. Johnston
Friday, Nov. 3
12 p.m. - 1 p.m.
Central Resource Library
Bring your lunch and meet E.K. Johnston, Canadian author and forensic archaeologist. Her books range from contemporary fantasy (The Story of Owen, Prairie Fire), to fairy tale re-imaginings (A Thousand Nights, Spindle), small town Ontario (Exit, Pursued By A Bear) to a galaxy far, far away (Star Wars: Ahsoka). Rest assured, E.K. Johnston understands sometimes things turn out weird and there's not a lot you can do about it, but she has no plans to rein anything in. Purchase her books through the Friends of Johnson County Library.
Author E.K. Johnston in conversation with editor Andrew Karre
Saturday, Nov. 4
4 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Central Resource Library
Ever wonder what the author/editor relationship looks like? Here's your chance. Join E.K. Johnston, Canadian author and forensic archaeologist, and Andrew Karre, executive editor of Dutton Books for Young Readers, as they share history and personal experiences in the publishing industry. Bring your notebooks and pens.