All the Rage. There’s plenty of it. It eats away at Romy like termites feast on wood. She’s been raped, ostracized, and made into a social pariah. All for the damnable sin of liking a boy and a having a few too many drinks at a party that went terribly wrong.
Romy is a hard character to get to know and a hard character to like. Yes, terrible things have been done to her, things that no girl (or person for that matter) should ever suffer, and she’s turned her shame and her hate in on herself. She’s suffered and agonized and tried yet failed to contort herself into another girl, an unraped girl who hides behind an armor of red nail polish and red lipstick, but as the story went on I found my sympathy for Romy being replaced by anger at her. Her stubborn refusal to tell anyone what happened to her, what she knows, what’s eating at her started to really grate after a while. I wanted her to stand up for herself, for Penny. I wanted her to fight back, to go after the one who made her the way she is, but she kept hiding in her silence.
The writing is strong. The descriptions of pain, of what Romy feels on the inside are vivid, and author Courtney Summers finds a unique way of bringing forth the internal turmoil and struggle. I liked the way the characters looked at life. Caro with her realization about her unborn child, and Romy’s own mother when she realizes everything that Romy carries and won’t share with those who would help her. Romy’s discovery that she is praying Caro’s baby isn’t a girl. Little thoughts and scenes that build and reflect the overall theme that winds its way through Romy and Penny and the town of Grebe where everyone knows everything and nothing all at once.
Despite my frustrations at Romy’s decisions (and sometimes lack there of), the ending was satisfying. It felt like just the right place to leave the story. I definitely recommend this book. I read a lot and sometimes books all seem the same and blend together until I can barely remember one from another, but this one definitely stands out.
All the Rage by Courtney Summers, St. Martin’s Griffin Books, 2015.