Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Opposite of Innocent

The Opposite of Innocent. Sonya Sones. 2018. 272 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
The Friend of the Family
I've always been in love with Luke.
For as far back
as I can remember.
I used to climb into his lap,
throw my arms around his neck,
and tell him I was gonna marry him
when I grew up.
And Luke would smile down at me
and say,
"I'll wait for you, Lily. I promise."
 Premise/plot: The Opposite of Innocent is a verse novel for young adults. I hesitate to add for young adults--though perhaps not for the reason you might suspect. (I'll address this in 'my thoughts' below.) Lily, our narrator, is fourteen. She is head over heels in love with Luke, a twenty-nine year old man, a family friend who has known Lily's father practically forever. (Lily's parents think it is SO ADORABLE that their Lily has a "little girl" crush on Luke.) In fact, Luke is living with the family these days as he's looking for his own place. He's in no hurry and neither are they.

If Luke were to leave who would take care of their children? Who would take them to school? pick them up from school? stay home with them when they're sick? help them with their homework? take them to the library? If Luke weren't around, one of them at least would have to actually parent.

Lily doesn't dare to hope that Luke is as madly in love with her as she is with him. But lately she's been noticing him noticing her. Could her dreams finally be coming true at last? Does Luke LOVE her back?

My thoughts: The Opposite of Innocent handles a mature topic--sexual abuse. It is just as much of a must-read as Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK, in my opinion. It is intense, compelling, and dramatic. Dare I say more than a little scary?

As far as content goes, it is a mature topic. Lily is NOT ready for the relationship LUKE wants to have with her. Lily does not have the life-experience to know that Luke is manipulating her. Not only in the present tense, but that he has spent years manipulating her--grooming her. Not only her but her parents as well. Lily's parents trust Luke 110%. No reservations. No rules.

So it does get graphic. I won't lie and say this is a clean read when it isn't. But the fact that it is graphic should not keep (strict) parents from allowing their (teen) children to read it. It is too important a topic to ignore. It is a book that needs to be read and discussed. Parents should read the book too.

I'll go a step further. Adults should be reading this one. Parents. Teachers. Librarians. Anyone. Everyone.

The topic does stay front and center, but it is also very much character-driven. If you've not read Sonya Sones' novels before, you should give them a try.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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