Friday, 20 September 2013

Novel Publicity Blog Tour; Review: Maybe I Will by Laurie Gray

Publication date: March 15th, 2013
Publisher: Luminis Books
Stars: 5/5
Links: Amazon|Goodreads
Source: Novel Publicity blog tour (thank you, NP!)
It's not about sex.

It's about how one secret act of violence changes everything--how best friends can desert you when you need them most, how nobody understands. It's about the drinking and stealing and lying and wondering who you can trust. It's about parents and teachers, police officers and counselors--all the people who are supposed to help you, but who may not even believe you.

It's about how suddenly all of your hopes and dreams can vanish, and you can find yourself all alone, with nothing and no one. Your only choice is to end it all or to start over... and all you can think is Maybe I Will.

Author Laurie Gray presents a compelling picture of the realities of sexual assault in Maybe I Will, drawing on her years of experience as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, dealing with crimes against children. The twist in the story is that we never know for sure if the victim is a boy or a girl, and we realize that it doesn't matter, because it's not about sex.

REVIEW


I found myself thinking about this six-word paragraph I read in Anthem: "I am. I think. I will." The words were so powerful, but they kept turning into questions in my mind. I am. Who am I? I think. What do I think? I will. I will what? Maybe I will, but maybe I won't. Maybe I will, but maybe I don't. Maybe I don't will anything. Maybe it all happens regardless of my will.

In case you didn't get the drift from the above quote alone, Maybe I Will is powerful. It's intense and devastating, in part, because of the tragedy that befalls the protagonist and for the most part, because of the way it is written itself.

We do not know much about Sandy in the beginning. We do not know his(/her) gender, for instance. Sandy's parents intended to name the main character Sandy, short for Sandford or Sandra. What was it finally short for? We do not know. At the same time, we know that Sandy is a powerhouse of amazing on stage. That Sandy is a sophomore who takes high school seriously... seriously enough to think hard over his/her assignments anyway. We also know that Sandy really hits it off with a co-actor in the Peter Pan play; Shanika Washington. That Sandy loves the Bard, quotes Shakespeare in a way that is infectious and watches Hamlet for fun. That Sandy seems to have loving and caring parents and good enough friends. That Sandy is incredibly, inspiringly and realistically resilient. So. Do we know Sandy after all?

Despite not knowing Sandy's sex or sexual orientation... constructs that seem to be enough to characterise most Young Adult protagonists these days... don't we know Sandy? Irrespective of the exclusion of Sandy's gender from the story which would've probably influenced our thoughts of Sandy as either "sensitive" or "angsty" depending on whether Sandy was male or female... or as gay or straight... we know Sandy. In fact, we know more of Sandy, now that the labels have been tucked away from our line of vision.

Then, at the central point of the story comes the act of violence that you anticipate and yet barely see coming... the consequences on Sandy's esteem, health and social life shock you. Sandy is sexually assaulted... there is no other word for it... or is there? Because just like the other carefully label-excluded aspects of the story, the incident, despite being crude and aggressive and violating, is clearly not about sex. 

The assault makes Sandy feel violated and vulnerable and friendless... reduced to a shell. Redefining Sandy; as he/she questions things that were once taken for granted.

At different points of the story, two labels are attributed to Sandy by others: rich and kid which made me go... heh. It was surprising how starkly these labels stood out from the rest of the novel. It was gratifying how these labels never stuck to Sandy.

Maybe I Will blew.me.away.It figuratively shattered me into tiny pieces as I felt like I was witness to a shock, slow breakdown and at the same time, incredible efforts to regain sense of self in the wake of a nightmare. It made me question our natural tendency to gender type due to the total absence of gender typing in the book. It made me reevaluate my feelings towards sexual assault... making me realise that it wasn't about how far the perpetrator got or how physically bruised the person was at all because it's not about sex. It never was.

In case you're wondering, I started off picturing Sandy as a girl (it must have something to do with the abundance of female protagonists in Young Adult fiction) and then, when I realised the sex was never mentioned, tried imagining Sandy as a boy... and gradually, after switching back and forth a few times, I ended up reading Sandy as... Sandy. That made for a very liberating and different experience! Maybe I Will has been compared to Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and while it is definitely recommended for those who read and loved Speak, I think this novel stands on its own in terms of the barriers it breaks and the way it picks apart the assault; zeroing in on the core of what it really was.

Rating: ★★★★★

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Welcome to Novel Publicity's latest publishing house blog tour. Join us as two new titles from Luminis Books--we're calling them the Luminis Duo--tour the blogosphere in a way that just can't be ignored. And, hey, we've got prizes! 

About the author: 

Laurie Gray has worked as a high school teacher, a deputy prosecuting attorney, and the founder of Socratic Parenting LLC (www.SocraticParenting.com). In addition to writing, speaking and consulting, Laurie currently works as a bilingual child forensic interviewer at her local Child Advocacy Center and as an adjunct professor of criminal sciences at Indiana Tech. She has served on the faculty of the National Symposium for Child Abuse in Huntsville, Alabama, annually since 2009. Her debut novel Summer Sanctuary (Luminis Books/2010) received a Moon Beam Gold Medal for excellence in young adult fiction and was named a 2011 Indiana Best Book Finalist. Her third young adult novel Just Myrto (Luminis Books/2014) will carry readers back to ancient Greece to meet Socrates, Laurie’s favorite teacher of all times. Connect with Laurie on her website, Facebook, or GoodReads.

 About the prizes:

Who doesn't love prizes? You could win either of two $25 Amazon gift cards, an autographed copy of Maybe I Will by Laurie Gray Aloha, Mozart by Waimea Williams, or an autographed copy of its tour mate, Aloha, Mozart by Waimea Williams. Here's what you need to do...
  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog.
That's it! One random commenter during this tour will win a $25 gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win--the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other $25 gift card and the 3 autographed books will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Luminis Duo tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

Luminis Books was launched in January, 2010 by husband and wife team Tracy Richardson and Chris Katsaropoulos with a mission to publish thought-provoking literary fiction for children and adults. We publish what we love: Meaningful Books That Entertain. Our award-winning books engage and inform readers and explore a wide range of topics from love and relationships, teen sexual assault and homelessness to string theory, consciousness, and the Universal Energy Field. Luminis Books is a proudly independent publisher located in Carmel, IN. Learn more at www.luminisbooks.com.  

Learn more about Maybe I Will's tour mate HERE.

6 comments:

  1. This sounds wonderful and powerful and I love that Sandy is Sandy!

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  2. This sounds like an emotional read and that you truly enjoyed it. I haven't heard of this one before now so I am so glad you were featuring it today! :)

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  3. What a fantastic, insightful, well-written review, Pooja! I’m so glad you loved MAYBE I WILL, and that bloggers are getting so much out of it. Thank you for joining us on this tour and cross-posting your awesome review. Also don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter and random commenter contests!

    Em

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  4. Wow, sounds like a very intense novel. I think I'd really like it though because I like the idea that Sandy is never "given" a gender, if you will. Opens up a lot more in terms of this topic.

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  5. Hey girl! Hope life isn't too crazy for you! What a powerful review. I have not heard of this book but I am very curious. I like the idea of not knowing the sex of the protagonist. Such an interesting twist. I would very much like to check this out now, thanks for putting it on my radar.

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  6. This sounds like such an interesting read! One of the first things I do when starting a book is try to work out if the protagonist is male or female (if I don't know already). I'm sure that must subconsciously lead to gender stereotyping in my head, though it isn't something I've really thought about before! I'm definitely curious about this title now. Thanks for the helpful review! :)

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HI. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment. :)