ARC review: I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter

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“I didn’t deserve this. Even the most confused and lost girl, even the most screwed up of us all, doesn’t deserve this.”

All Ellie ever wanted was to blend in. All her life, she’s worn the wrong clothes. Ever since puberty, she’s been teased for her figure. Now, about to start high school, she decides that enough is enough – she’ll blend in no matter what. Enlisting the help of her neighbor Kate, Ellie gets a makeover that turns her into a stereotypical high school student. Now, instead of negative attention, she’s getting looks of interest from one of the most popular boys in the school, Caleb, the son of a wealthy politician. When Ellie disappears, the fact that she blended in so well works against her. Nobody noticed her. Nothing about her stood out. Then, one girl starts putting the pieces together and the whole story comes crumbling down.

I’m so sad. I really wanted to like this one more, but I have a complicated relationship with books like this. It’s not a fault of the book or the writer but more a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” You know, I read the summary, I read some early reviews, and I still didn’t grasp just how dark this book would be. It took me forever to read it because I could only stomach it in small batches. In all honesty, I probably would not have requested it if I’d known it would be like this.

Reading this book was hard. I’ve thankfully never experienced sexual assault and I got panicky just reading it. I can’t imagine how it would feel if you were a survivor, so trigger warnings for that, I guess. The characters dance around the actual assault, rarely referring to it as rape and primarily just referring to it as a thing that happened. But still, the gut punches are there when you’re least expecting them, and more and more details are revealed as the story continues.

It makes me so angry that a book like this is necessary.  These are the times that we live in and it’s horrible. I hate that a book this horrible can also be so realistic. I hate the ending because it shouldn’t be something that actually happens. This book tears apart the argument that a girl could ask for it. That a girl could be somehow deserving of sexual assault because of the way she dresses or the people she associates with or the neighborhood she lives in. Carter has one of the best quotes I’ve read on rape culture in this book.

People don’t debate what defines murder. Politicians don’t argue the body’s ability to fight off being killed. There’s no talk of ‘murder culture.’ No one says that you asked for murder. What you wear doesn’t excuse being killed.

There are a few twists and I’m not entirely sure how I felt about some of them. I’d hoped for a bit more closure at the end, but, like life, things don’t always tie up neatly. The book is certainly worthy of the attention that it’s getting, but I think it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a very heavy book about a very heavy topic.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

I received a free advance copy of I Stop Somewhere from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for my honest review.

#readtherainbow: black