It Happens All The Time Review
I'm going to start this blog post with the warning that, this book review will be more serious than normal. I like to think my writing is usually a bit humorous and always light-hearted, but today that's just not going to happen. I will try my best to keep from spilling my guts on the Internet for everyone to read, but this book felt personal...so that may be a bit difficult. And the subject matter isn't pleasant. Consider yourself warned.
While browsing through Twitter last month I noticed that Booksparks was teaming up with author Amy Hatvany for Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month...where if you purchased her book It Happens All The Time, and sent them the receipt, they would donate 30% of the sale to the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center. Now, I don't live in King County, WA but I thought why not purchase a book that will give money to a cause that is close to my heart? So I immediately went on Amazon and bought the book without even reading the description, sent in my receipt, and voila...new book on my TBR pile.
Then when it arrived at the house, and I read the description, I thought...this one might be tricky to read and review.
It Happens All The Time tells the story of Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks. They have been best friends since middle school, through some of the toughest times in their lives. Tyler helped Amber when she struggled with an eating disorder. Amber helped Tyler through his parent's divorce, and his issues with his controlling and manipulative father. Through thick and thin they have always relied on each other. Best friends forever.
But Tyler has always been in love with Amber.
When Amber comes back from college with a fiance, Tyler is not happy. One night out at a party, after a lot of tequila, some flirtatious dancing, and a kiss...everything goes horribly wrong. And nothing is ever the same again.
The book alternates between Amber and Tyler's point of view. You get to be in both of their heads before the event that changes their lives and after. And it is all about consent.
I don't think I could say that I liked this book...that's not the right word for it. I think this book is important, and I'm giving it 5 stars. If you read it, and you'd never been a victim of sexual assault, would you give it 5 stars? I'm not sure. I couldn't separate 15 year old me with 41 year old me as I was reading it. It just feels like an important book, and I'm going to tell you for a minute why I think that's so.
This book paints rape with a different paintbrush than you normally see in a novel. Tyler is a "nice guy". HE thinks he's a nice guy. They are FRIENDS. She kissed HIM first. They were BOTH drunk. There were no weapons. No bad guy with a gun to her head. They were at a party. They KNEW each other. And this stuff is important for people to read.
And I'm not even going to get into Amber's eating disorder, which is another sensitive subject in this book. It was hard to read also, and once again...very true to life in my opinion.
According to RAINN 7 out of 10 perpetrators of sexual violence know their victims. But in a lot of people's heads, that's just not the case.
I'm not going to turn this review into a PSA, but I really felt this book handled the whole thing incredibly well. It was raw and emotional...I had tears in my eyes for a few sections. There were things that Amber said that could've come straight out of my diary in 1991. But this was not a man-bashing book. Tyler was a well rounded character. As in life, this was not a black and white story...it was all shades of gray, and it just goes to show how delicate and confusing the messages we all receive about sex can be. It was filled with very good information, and I would say very well researched. I commend Amy Hatvany, who says in the back of the book that she was inspired to write the book by her children growing older and her still remembering so vividly her own sexual assault as a teen.
So...5 Stars. Well worth the $14 I spent on Amazon.
Instead of peppering the post with graphics I normally make personally, of cute quotes I enjoyed from the book I'm reviewing...this time I'll be using some from the RAINN website. I have personally used their resources before, and have donated to them in the past. They had a great page for SAAPM full of pre-made tweets and Instagram graphics...so I'm borrowing from them. They not only have a hotline phone number (1-800-656-HOPE) but an online chat line...where my 38 year old self was actually called normal (for the first time ever) when I asked if you could 20+ years later start losing sleep over something that had happened to you. They are good people...
I'll try to make my next post a bit happier. 😊