Every Last Promise
Author: Kristin Halbrook
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Source: egalley received from publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: 3.5 Stars
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***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way changed my opinion of the book. The review below is my open and honest opinion.***
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Gayle Forman, Every Last Promise
is a provocative and emotional novel about a girl who must decide between keeping quiet and speaking up after witnessing a classmate’s sexual assault.
Kayla saw something at the party that she wasn’t supposed to. But she hasn’t told anyone. No one knows the real story about what happened that night—about why Kayla was driving the car that ran into a ditch after the party, about what she saw in the hours leading up to the accident, and about the promise she made to her friend Bean before she left for the summer.Now Kayla’s coming home for her senior year. If Kayla keeps quiet, she might be able to get her old life back. If she tells the truth, she risks losing everything—and everyone—she ever cared about.
This was a story of a girl faced with a choice. A choice to do the right thing or keep her shiny, sparkly life. All of us have been faced with the choice between right and wrong. And I’m sure that all of us have been faced with some kind of choice where doing the right thing will mean negative consequences for yourself. So I think that a lot of people will be able to relate to the main character, Kayla.
Kayla witnessed a sexual assault. And now she has to decide whether to speak up about it or keep her secret. If she speaks up, she’ll lose everything, her friends, her life, maybe even her home. Because the perpetrator is one of the small town’s golden boys. He comes from a rich, influential family and no one can touch him. Speaking out against him will be social suicide. It was hard to watch Kayla struggle through this choice. I wanted to scream at her to tell someone the whole time. I ached for the victim. The fact that she had to go to school every day and walk the same halls as that scumbag made me sick. And I wanted to shake Kayla and tell her to help, to do the right thing, to stop being a coward. But in truth, I wonder what I would have done at her age in that situation. I want to say that I would have come forward immediately. But I also remember how important it was to fit in high school, to not upset the wrong people, to be popular, have friends. High school with no friends is rough, to say the least. I wish that Kayla had spoken out sooner, but I guess in a way, I understood her struggle.
And Kayla wasn’t the only one at fault here. There were other people who knew that kept quiet the whole time. This whole town really was at fault. They were at fault for protecting their golden boy. For not believing the girl when it first happened. It disgusted me the way that people fell all over themselves for this young man. It disgusted me the way he treated the victim and Kayla. Like he was all powerful and they would regret opening their mouths. He was controlling and scary and I hated him.
There are a lot of good messages in this book that young girls can learn from. It’s pointed out several times how society will tell girls that it’s their fault. They shouldn’t have worn a short dress. They shouldn’t have flirted with him. They shouldn’t have walked off alone. And then this book tells the reader that all of this is wrong. That it isn’t your fault. That this is a violent crime and the only person at fault is the perpetrator. It teaches the reader to stand up for themselves, even if standing up for yourself is the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. It teaches the reader to do the right thing, no matter the cost. Keeping quiet about a sexual assault only allows the perpetrator to claim another victim.
Something that I really loved about this book was Kayla’s family, especially her brother. Caleb was there for her and I think he knew more than he let on. But he was patient with his sister and understanding. I loved their easy banter and the way that they said they couldn’t stand each other, but so obviously loved each other unconditionally. And I loved Kayla’s parents and their need to protect her, even if that meant sending her away for a while because they knew how bad it was going to get at school. This family was a united front and they stood by Kayla’s side during the whole ordeal.
There’s a little bit of romance in this book which was sweet, but it’s definitely in the background which I appreciated. The main point of this story was to teach a lesson about doing the right thing and I was really glad the romance didn’t take precedence over that. Although it was hard to read at times, I think this is a really important story that teens and adults alike should read.
Have you read this book? What did you think?