Exit, Pursued By a Bear – E.K. Johnston


Veronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine.

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.


Great read. Every other “rape” book I’ve ever read has a very melancholic air; a sense of despair and hopelessness. As a result, this one was a breath of fresh air. It’s important to capture these alternative experiences so that people can empathize, sympathize, or realize that just because something happens to you doesn’t mean you’re broken and torn apart.

Also, I was super-excited to read about a book set in Ontario. E.K. Johnston, you are a Canadian superstar! I’m 100% sure Mississauga doesn’t have a St. Ignatius Secondary School (I should know, I lived there for 20 years), but pretty much any reference to places I know made me grin. Even some of the terminology was distinctly Canadian (“grade 9” vs. “ninth grade”), and I loved those nuances!

The title was really clever, too. Throughout the book, I didn’t understand why this book was called, Exit, Pursued by a Bear. That was a little dense of me, but luckily it made sense at the end. Hermione is a fearless leader of a team with a fighting spirit.

Books like this don’t come along very often. It addresses rape clearly, plainly, and in the best way possible for a victim. While it doesn’t end in a neat and tidy “happily ever after,” it does offer hope. In some cases, that’s all you need.

Related Reading

  • The Word for Yes – Claire Needell
  • Asking for It – Louise O’Neill
  • The Squad – Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Rating: 5/5


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