Friday, April 11, 2014

Review: To My Hero by Danielle Sibarium

To My Hero by Danielle Sibarium
Publisher: KFR Communications
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Rating: 3 stars
Source: Copy sent by the author

Summary (from Goodreads):

It would've been different if I had courage, even an ounce of it. But I was a coward from the day I met you, Ryan Crowley. I still am. In the end, it doesn't matter. The bottom line is the same. It’s my fault.

When the unthinkable happens, Carly Cavanough is left beaten, betrayed, and devastated. Her best friend doesn’t understand. Her parents won’t listen. Everyone in her life turns against her. She’s completely alone, except for Ryan Crowley, the boy she’s been crushing on for years. She won’t admit to him what she can’t admit to herself. But he understands without words. He knows more about what she’s going through than she can possibly imagine and he knows what it will take for the healing to begin.

With Ryan’s help, Carly begins to piece together the fragments of her once perfect life and embark on a journey of love and healing, just long enough for the rug to be pulled out from under her again. Can she find the strength and will to pull herself together to save Ryan and herself when their lives are on the line?

What I Liked:

You all know that I struggle with "tough-issue" books - especially the ones that deal with rape. This book is a book dealing with a girl who has been raped and beaten by her boyfriend. It was a one-time event, at a party, but it happened. Carly didn't report the rape, or the abuse, or go to the hospital. She didn't want to say anything because her father and her boyfriend's father work together or do business together or something. It's like Carly and Will were encourage to be together, because their parents work together. But that makes Will possessive over Carly. At a party, he cheats on her, she catches him, she gets mad, he gets mad, he beats her and rapes her.

Carly has been in love with Ryan for a very long time, and vice versa, but Will pressured a relationship onto Carly (I know, it sounds ridiculous). Ryan finds Carly after the rape, and helps her, but begs her to go to the hospital. She refuses. She doesn't want to face the police or hospital, or risk her father's business going under. This blog takes us through Carly's surviving, her healing, and her relationship with Ryan.

Sibarium does a pretty good job of handling such difficult content matter. There is the rape, the abuse, the controlling, unloving parents, the psycho boyfriend, and the aftermath. I feel like Carly's reactions are very human, and while I dislike the vast majority of them, I'm happy to see how well Carly is characterized.

The romance is constructed in an interesting matter. Both Carly and Ryan love each other before getting close (which is part of this story), but both of them were dating different people at the beginning of the story. But this story, Carly's heartbreaking tragedy, brings Carly and Ryan together. In a way, the romance of this book reminded me of the romance in Fault Line, except in this book, Carly seemed more optimistic in general, and less psychopath. 

A short but powerful story about one girl's survival of a horrible deed. I don't read too many of these book, because they make me really sad, but I'm glad I had the chance to read this one. My rating is fair (right in the middle), but I'm pleased to have given this book a shot.

What I Did Not Like:

I'm honestly not a fan of these types of books - "tough-issue" books. I've never been placed in such a situation as Carly (thank goodness), but I feel like the characters' reactions in these books are strange. People react weirdly to crises, and while it might be realistic, I find it ridiculous at times.

For example. Is it really reasonable that you DON'T report rape, or physical abuse, or anything like that, if it happened to you?! Are you really going to NOT DO ANYTHING?! In my opinion, it doesn't matter what the circumstances are. In Carly's case, she didn't want to tell the police because if she broke up with Will, her father and his father would stop doing business together (or something like that). Also, she wanted it to be "all over with", so that she wouldn't have to deal with that anymore.

That. Is. Bulls***. Unbelievable. You're telling me that you just lost your virginity, you were RAPED, you were beaten, and you don't want to go to the hospital? To a therapist? To a rape examiner? Is your health not important? Forget your father's business. Forget your a**hole of a boyfriend. FORGET THAT S***. Your health is more important. Or so one would think.

So, I really didn't like Carly's reaction initially, to the rape. The thing is, if you don't report the rape after it happens (like if you wait, if you shower or clean up), then your chances of people (i.e. the police) believing you goes straight down. It's horrible to say, but girls cry wolf all the time and falsely accuse boys of rape. At the same time, people get raped all the time. So. Report that s***. Forget about the shame. Report. That. S***.

See why I dislike some people's reactions to crises, such as Carly's to the rape? I just don't understand that. You can't even psychologically explain to me why that makes sense. It. Does. Not. I can understand a rape victim not wanting to be touched, or like in Fault Line by C. Desir, when the victim wants to be touched too much. But not reporting rape? Or going to the hospital. Smart. REALLY SMART.

Would I Recommend It:

Um, well, if you like this sort of book, that involves tough issues in a teenager's life, and a heartbreaking journey to recovery, then go for it! There are plenty of these books out there (from 2014, there is Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens, which most people LOVED, though I disliked it. In 2013, there was Fault Line, which was good). I probably wouldn't have picked this book up if the author hadn't sent it to me, honestly. But if you're interested, I'm giving it a good-ish rating!


3 stars. This is a good read, if you like "tough-issue" novels! April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so I would actually encourage everyone to read a "tough-issue" novel this month. Even if you're like me, and usually dislike that kind of book. 

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


  1. I'm definitely on the fence about tough issue books. At times I find them really compelling and heartbreaking, but at others I have no patience for them. It's such a trend in books that deal with rape for the victim not to report what happens, and while realistic, it's painful to read and hard to understand. I'd like to see a book where the girl takes control of the situation, no matter how painful.

    Great review Alyssa!! :D

    1. I know what you mean, Rachel. I'm usually not a fan. I especially don't like when characters don't report rapes. It's like she doesn't care about herself?! Doesn't make any sense.

      Thank you!

  2. I like tough issue books like this, and I can actually understand why she wouldn't want to report it. I mean, it's super stressful and at the time you probably wouldn't want to admit that actually happened to you. This one seems like a pretty gritty novel, though.

    Tangent here, but I feel like it's less that girls cry wolf that they were raped that the guys make it seem like the girl wanted it or something. I mean it probably does happen, but definitely not all the time because 1 in every 4 women get raped at least once in their lifetime and the perpetrator will never get convicted. But that was just some random tidbit I wanted to add in :)

    1. I see your point, but to me, that's a totally foreign concept. You're only hurting yourself if you don't report it, or at least get checked out for damage/injuries/pregnancy/etc. Stressful, yes, but it'll get even more stressful if you don't do one or both of those things.

      Crying wolf can happen though. I'm not saying it's common, I'm not saying I disagree with you, but it happens.

  3. I don't usually read tough-issue books much either, but I think it's extremely important that they're out there, and the more and the more varied situations and reactions they present, the better. We need to stop thinking that rape is something that doesn't happen as often or that girls "go asking for it". And I really agree with you, that more victims need to speak out, and report it. But at the same time I understand how some wouldn't, given the fact that so many excuses are made for the rapists sometimes, and society as a whole still seem to be blaming the victims way too often.

    1. Me either, to be honest, but I agree. Blaming victims is so unbelievably horrible - no girl (or guy) deserves to be taken advantage of, in any way, for any reason, no matter what the circumstances are/seem to be (especially to the other person). It doesn't matter, it's a violation of another person's honor and person. I stick with victims needing to speak out, but I understand that.

      Thank you for the comment, Pili!

  4. First, I'd like to thank you Alyssa for reading and reviewing To My Hero: A Blog of Our Journey Together. I wasn't aware that you didn't like tough-issue books, if I was I wouldn't have asked you to review it, but I am SOOOO glad I did.

    This review really accomplished what I set out to do, and that is open the discussion about rape/date rape. Unfortunately too many girls suffer in silence. They are afraid to tell for many reasons, they are in denial, they are ashamed, or they are afraid they won't be believed, or will be blamed for it. It is not for us to judge whether they are right or wrong in their reaction, but bring the topic to light in a responsible fashion.

    While reactions of rape victims may seem illogical, we must remember they are traumatized. It's not that they don't care about their health, it's that they are often paralyzed by fear and shame. I think the question of telling or hiding the incident often comes down to family dynamics. If someone feels they have the full love and support of their family, they are more likely to tell than someone that believes their family will turn around and blame them, as happens more often than we'd like to think.

    I know this is not an easy topic to discuss, but I applaud everyone that commented on this thread. It is an important topic, and one that is uncomfortable for people to discuss in the open. So I thank you for taking the time to share your opinion. I hope in the end any girl that has suffered a tragedy such as Carly's knows that she isn't alone, and that she must find the strength inside herself to empower herself to never let anything like it happen again. And for someone who has not suffered a fate such as this, I hope to enlighten them so when they encounter someone who has, (I promise it happens much more often than you think,) they have some insight and understanding.

    Once again, thank you!

  5. I know what you mean about being frustrated by characters' decisions. I understand the psychology behind not reporting rape, but it's still...frustrating. Ah well, congrats on getting through another tough read!


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