Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: 14th April 2015
Edition: US e-proof, NetGalley review copy
Other Titles by this Author: Cracked Up to Be, Some Girls Are, This is Not a Test
The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything – friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of his assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time – and they certainly won’t now – but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.
With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?
Nothing I write here will come close to describing the range of powerful emotions that Romy’s story elicits, but I’ll give it a go.
All the Rage is written in beautifully sparse and haunting prose, split between ‘Before’ and ‘Now’. Dividing the two periods of time is the legendary party, Wake Lake, and the person Romy is in each. I loved how Summers made clear the staggering effect Romy’s assault had on her – before she was ‘I’ and after ‘she’ – she no longer recognising herself. What an incredible way to get that feeling across.
Romy struggles to keep herself together in the aftermath of her rape. She’s been branded a liar, lost all of her friends and the whole school, and lots of other people in town, hate her. The only control she has left is the routine of building her armour out of flawless nail polish and lipstick in a violent, blood read. It’s a ritual that occurs throughout the novel, but most significantly, it’s the final scene of the novel, repeated word for word from when it was introduced in the beginning and followed by a short, powerful command from Romy that took my breath away. She takes strength from that armour and she’s going to use it, it’ll make her stronger.
And yet I think it’s the whole rape culture that All the Rage highlights that has the most impact. It makes the book and uncomfortable, scary read because everything Summers demonstrates is true. Romy wasn’t believed when she reported her rape, even her best friend abandoned her. The sheriff, the father of Romy’s rapist, refused to even consider the possibility and everyone is under his thumb. When a girl goes missing and the events of that night at Wake Lake come to light, there is talk of that girl being raped and it’s thrown down immediately. The radio discussions of the case blame it on the alcohol, the expected circumstances of a party like that, the clothes girls wear to this party – everything but the fact that it could happened and someone would have committed that act. It scares Romy so much that she wishes a newborn baby girl wasn’t born a girl because this is the world she’ll have to live in. The title of this novel perfectly sums up Romy’s feelings about how she was treated, but also the rage of every person in this situation, every reader of this novel, every girl and woman living in this world right now.
All the Rage is powerful, important and deeply affecting. I sincerely hope Courtney Summers will be picked up by a UK publisher soon – her books are too significant to be missing from UK shelves.
Thanks to NetGalley and St Martin’s Griffin for the review copy.