Reviews for Sex & Violence


Booklist Reviews 2013 September #2
The word that comes to mind for this debut is tough. The absence of sentimentality and melodrama in favor of frank dialogue and bruising honesty is a gasp of fresh air--or at least air that smells of blood and sweat. After repeated moves with his father, 17-year-old Evan has mastered being the new guy: identify the Girl Who Would Say Yes and have sex with her, posthaste. But he miscalculates and receives a beating so brutal that he loses his spleen and retreats to a small Minnesota town to recuperate. There, he warily integrates into a group of teens while dealing with a new set of trauma-related fears that have turned him into a "fucking frozen eunuch." Yes, there's foul language aplenty and lots of (mostly fun, satisfying) sex, and Mesrobian's scuffed-up prose makes it all genuine, even when things get tangential. And this long-windedness affords its own woolly pleasures; mash John Barnes' Tales of the Madman Underground (2009) with Melina Marchetta's Jellicoe Road (2008), douse it with sex and scabs, and stand back. Unevenly weighted, but Mesrobian's potential is sky-high. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
Having never lived in one place for too long, Evan has become adept at finding sex without emotional attachment. When one of his pursuits results in a brutal beating, Evan and his dad return to the father's family cabin in Minnesota to begin the healing process. The writing is strong and gritty; Evan is a morally complex, emotionally affecting character.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 May #1
An intelligent, wry 17-year-old is brutally beaten in a communal shower by two classmates after he hooks up with one of their former girlfriends, setting the stage for a difficult recovery. Evan knows he's sort of a dick when it comes to girls, but being constantly uprooted to various boarding schools by his emotionally inept dad has caused him to eschew relationships and focus on honing his knack for identifying Girls Who Would Say Yes. After the assault that leaves Evan in the hospital, his father whisks him off to his own boyhood home in Minnesota, where he's uneasily sucked into a tightknit group spending their last summer at home getting high and hanging out before going off to college. Evan's intense, often-discomfiting first-person narration will deeply affect readers, and his darker side is troubling--in an aside about girls with eating disorders, he thinks, "I'd known some of those barf-it-up girls, and they were the worst. So crazy. So clingy. The first to get deleted from my phone." Packed with realistically lewd dialogue that is often darkly funny, this is a pitch-perfect, daring novel about how sex and violence fracture a life and the painstakingly realistic process of picking up the pieces. Evan's struggle is enormously sympathetic, even when he is not. Utterly gripping. (Fiction. 16 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 September #1
An intelligent, wry 17-year-old is brutally beaten in a communal shower by two classmates after he hooks up with one of their former girlfriends, setting the stage for a difficult recovery. Evan knows he's sort of a dick when it comes to girls, but being constantly uprooted to various boarding schools by his emotionally inept dad has caused him to eschew relationships and focus on honing his knack for identifying Girls Who Would Say Yes. After the assault that leaves Evan in the hospital, his father whisks him off to his own boyhood home in Minnesota, where he's uneasily sucked into a tightknit group spending their last summer at home getting high and hanging out before going off to college. Evan's intense, often-discomfiting first-person narration will deeply affect readers, and his darker side is troubling--in an aside about girls with eating disorders, he thinks, "I'd known some of those barf-it-up girls, and they were the worst. So crazy. So clingy. The first to get deleted from my phone." Packed with realistically lewd dialogue that is often darkly funny, this is a pitch-perfect, daring novel about how sex and violence fracture a life and the painstakingly realistic process of picking up the pieces. Evan's struggle is enormously sympathetic, even when he is not. Utterly gripping. (Fiction. 16 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 August #3

As the title suggests, debut author Mesrobian takes aim at big topics, but what she's most interested in is the aftermath. Used to being the new guy, 17-year-old Evan may not be much at making friends, but he's great at finding "left-of-normal" girls to sleep with. When he gets involved with Colette, who's been labeled a slut by her ex--Evan's jockish jerk of a boarding school roommate--things go very wrong. Colette is raped, and Evan is badly beaten, which makes his workaholic father finally pay attention. The two move to a lakeside Minnesota town, where Evan is all but forced to engage with a crew of recent high school graduates, when he'd rather lock himself in his room all summer. As Evan heals physically and mentally, he has ample time to consider the part of himself he calls "Dirtbag Evan" and reevaluate his attitudes toward girls and sex. By focusing on Evan, Mesrobian talks about hookup culture in a way that is character-based, not agenda-driven, and showcases a teenager who grows and changes without becoming unrecognizable or saintly. Ages 14-up. (Oct.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 September

Gr 10 Up--Seventeen-year-old, perpetual "new guy" Evan relocates all too frequently with his unsettled widower father, hence never making any real friends. However, he has no problem scoping out easy girls in whatever town they happen to land. At a boarding school in North Carolina while his father is working overseas, Evan's sexual encounters with the wrong girl, schoolmate Collette, lead to his ruthless battering outside the group showers by two stereotypical big bruisers who also viciously rape Collette. Although Evan's badly scarred body heals, his wounded spirit struggles with post-traumatic stress. Spurred into trying to be a good parent, his father moves them to the family's lake house in rural Minnesota and enlists a helpful therapist. There Evan, at first uncomfortably, connects with a whole new cast of teens who offer friendship, partying, sexual, and even romantic potential; gets a job and a car; and slowly begins to resolve his feelings about the assault against him and Collette by writing therapy-prescribed unmailed letters to her. At the same time, Evan's persistent negative behavior means trouble again, though this time he might finally learn a genuine lesson. Evan is not likable initially, especially in the callous ways he sizes up and uses females, but after his horrifying ordeal he transforms into someone with and for whom readers will eventually sympathize, want to shake into sensibility, and feel hope. Crass, crude, yet accurate language amid a balance of harsh moments and sensitive transitions pepper this disconcerting but extremely well-crafted and thought-provoking story for mature teens.--Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO

[Page 161]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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VOYA Reviews 2013 October
Evan Carter is always the New Guy. His workaholic father moves them frequently, so Evan does not make emotional attachments. Instead, Evan looks for The Girl Who Would Say Yes. Once yes is said, Evan deletes her phone number, and moves on. Then Evan hooks up with the wrong girl, and they both end up hospitalized, victims of a brutal assault. Hoping to help his son heal, Evan's dad moves them to a summer cabin in rural Minnesota. Evan wants to hide from the world, but on Pearl Lake, neighbors wander in without knocking, expecting you to play board games on someone's porch or go for a swim. Evan is thrust into a group of teens who simply demand his friendship, and he has to go from being Dirtbag Evan to being someone new. This is an excellent book. It offers a realistic, unflinching look at teens and sex. Evan is smart and funny, in a wry, sarcastic way that is authentically adolescent. He definitely was a "dirtbag" in his pre-beating life, and still has some sexually predatory instincts. His journey to being a better person is an extraordinary one, populated with wonderful secondary characters who are all fully drawn and rich. The dialogue is organic, crisp and true. The topics are deep and relevant--sex and violence, of course, but also gender roles, therapy, PTSD, father-son relationships, class rivalry, drug use, and more. This is an amazing story, one that all older teens will benefit from reading.--Heather Pittman 5Q 5P S  Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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