Review: Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian

sex and violence

Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian

Evan had always been the new kid at school, but he found advantages to that.  In each new school, he knew just which girls would be the ones to say “yes” and have sex with him.  That all changes when he picks the wrong girl at a private school in North Carolina and ends up savagely beaten in a boys’ restroom.  Evan’s father, who has been absent physically and emotionally since his mother’s death when he was a child, moves them to a lakeside cabin in Pearl Lake, Minnesota.  As his body starts to heal and scars start to form, Evan also has to deal with the damage to his mind.  He can no longer take showers because they evoke the same terror as the attack.  And even sex is so mixed with guilt and fear that it holds little appeal.  Pearl Lake is quiet but also filled with teens who know everything about one another but nothing about Evan, and that’s just the way he likes it.  Or is it?

This novel looks deep into what happens psychologically after a physical trauma.  Mesrobian handles dark issues with a certain tenderness, yet never shies away from the trauma itself.  While details of the attack are shared in snippets throughout the novel, they are not lingered over and sensationalized.  This is far more a book about a boy who survives and grows, combined with the agonies of change along the way. 

Evan is a wonderfully flawed protagonist.  The book begins just before the attack but with a prologue that foreshadows what is going to happen.  Evan is entirely detestable at this stage, a boy who screws girls just for fun, feeling little to no connection with them emotionally.  He convinces himself he is right about the way he is treating Collette.  Then early in the book, the attack comes, and Evan is transformed in a matter of pages into a character worthy of sympathy.  This sort of complexity runs throughout the novel which provides no easy answers but lots to think about.

Another great character is Baker.  She is a smart senior who is sexually active and even describes herself as sexually aggressive.  She and Evan almost immediately form a friendship that deepens over the summer.  She stands as one of the most honest and beautifully written teen girls I have read in a long time.  I love that she is not scared of expressing her sexuality, that her life doesn’t fall apart because of it, and that she is still feminine, smart and kind.  Amazing characterization!

This novel asks tough questions, changes underneath you, demands that you think and never gives concrete answers to the questions it asks.  Beautifully written, complex and brilliant.  Appropriate for ages 16-18.

Reviewed from library copy.

This Week’s Tweets and Pins

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter and Pinterest accounts this week that I hope you find interesting:



The Buggy History of One Book Cover by Sarah Albee | Nerdy Book Club  #kidlit #publishing

Children’s Books on World religions – The Horn Book  #kidlit

‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ author Jeff Kinney talks about his astonishing success  #kidlit

Exotic creatures – The Horn Book  #kidlit

The gender bias in children’s books  #kidlit

Green Eggs and Ego: Reviews of New Celebrity Children’s Books | Vanity Fair  #kidlit

Harry Potter Roamed Around Penn Station Looking for Platform 9&3/4| Underwire  #kidlit

How Hans Christian Andersen Revolutionized Storytelling | Brain Pickings  #kidlit

Jessica Ahlberg’s top 10 family-themed picture books | Children’s books  #kidlit

Modern children’s picture books are works of art in their own right | From the Beacon | The Island Packet  #kidlit

Moon Themed Books for Kids : PragmaticMom  #kidlit

Native Americans Children’s Books – The Horn Book  #kidlit

Neville Longbottom is the Most Important Person in Harry Potter—And Here’s Why  #kidlit

Sally Gardner’s top 10 fairy tales | Children’s books  #kidlit

Sam Angus’s top 10 war books | Children’s books  #kidlit

SLJ to Reveal 2013 Best Books on Twitter | School Library Journal  #kidlit #yalit

Why Picture Books Are Important by Hazel G. Mitchell  #kidlit



Louisiana parish votes to save library after commissioner’s rant about ‘teaching Mexicans how to speak English’ –

RT @HistoryInPics: A man browsing for books in Cincinnati’s cavernous old main library. The library was demolished i…

Stockholm’s Tio Tretton Library Gives Tweens a Space of Their Own | School Library Journal  #libraries



11 Dropbox Tricks You Didn’t Know About

The Daily Dot – Yes, everything you post on Facebook can be put in an ad

Silicon Valley Nerds Seek Revenge on NSA Spies With Coding – Bloomberg  #privacy #nsa

Which Companies Are Encrypting Your Data Properly?  #privacy


2014 Contemporary YA Books to Get On Your Radar  #yalit

Author Sherman Alexie Talks Young Adult Fiction And Banned Books | StateImpact Florida  #yalit

Best YA Novel of All Time? EW Staff Pick: ‘The Earthsea Cycle’ | Shelf Life  #yalit

Best YA novel of all time? The final four | PopWatch  #yalit

The Girl Myth in YA Fiction (And Beyond)  #yalit

Guide to Angels in YA Literature | The Hub  #yalit

How Does ‘Lord of the Flies’ Fit Into Common Core? | MindShift  #reading #yalit

How ‘Hunger Games’ and YA lit are re-shaping the Hollywood blockbuster – Movies Blog – Digital Spy  #yalit

‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Writer and Director Talk To TIME  #yalit

M.T. Anderson Reflects on Where We Are, Years After His Iconic Book, Feed | The Hub  #yalit

Marcus Sedgwick on his new book and literary nfluences | The National  #yalit

The Millions : Time for Teen Fantasy Heroines to Grow Up  #yalit

San Diego’s First Couple of teen fiction  #yalit

Stacked: Feminism in Contemporary YA Fiction: Guest Post by Trish Doller (Where the Stars Still Shine)  #yalit

Why I Wrote an Action-Driven Disaster Novel by Matt de la Peña | Nerdy Book Club  #kidlit