Poignant and chilling by turns, The Opposite of Innocent is award-winning author Sonya Sones’s most gripping novel in verse yet. It’s the story of a girl named Lily, who’s been crushing on a man named Luke, a friend of her parents, ever since she can remember.
Luke has been away for two endless years, but he’s finally returning today. Lily was only twelve when he left. But now, at fourteen, she feels transformed. She can’t wait to see how Luke will react when he sees the new her. And when her mother tells her that Luke will be staying with them for a while, in the bedroom right next to hers, her heart nearly stops.
Having Luke back is better than Lily could have ever dreamed. His lingering looks set Lily on fire. Is she just imagining them? But then, when they’re alone, he kisses her. Then he kisses her again. Lily’s friends think anyone his age who wants to be with a fourteen-year-old must be really messed up. Maybe even dangerous. But Luke would never do anything to hurt her…would he?
In this powerful tale of a terrifying leap into young adulthood, readers will accompany Lily on her harrowing journey from hopelessness to hope.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Rape, Strong sexual themes, Underage drinking
Booklist (August 2018 (Online))
Grades 9-12. It seems like Lily’s always been in love with Luke, her dad’s handsome, young business partner. Now that she’s 14, imagine her excitement knowing that Luke, who has been away, will return to her hometown and stay with her family until he gets his own place. Lily’s fevered crush on Luke will pull in romance fans right away, but they will notice, well before Lily does, that something about his attentions isn’t right. In her signature verse style, Sones weaves a pulse-quickening tale of sexual abuse from a young victim’s view, made all the more compelling by her innocence and thrill at first “love” as Luke gradually becomes more controlling. By the time Lily recognizes Luke’s menace, she feels hollowed out and trapped—a portrait of suffering that will break readers’ hearts. Friends try to help, but she can’t bring herself to reveal the depth of the crisis. When she does find a way to make that call for help, readers will be able to breathe again. A chilling portrait of predatory abuse.
Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2018)
A young woman is sexually abused by a close family friend in this latest novel in verse from veteran poet Sones (Saving Red, 2016, etc.). Fourteen-year-old Lily has long harbored a crush on her father’s friend Luke and is thrilled to learn that he is going to stay with her family upon his return from a research trip to Kenya. She fervently hopes that he’ll see she is no longer a little kid, “Now / I feel more like a butterfly— / a butterfly who can’t decide / which wings to wear.” Initially, Lily is thrilled when he seems to be returning her interest, but this gives way to palpable dread and shame as he pushes her into progressively more threatening situations. Factors that often play into sexual abuse emerge within this harrowing story, including Luke’s grooming of Lily from a young age and his use of threats to keep her from telling anyone. She becomes isolated from her best friends, Rose and Taylor, and she is already accustomed to her father’s hurtful emotional absence from her life. While realistic, these details sometimes feel a bit rote. All of the main characters seem to be white by default; Luke is English, Taylor is gay, and a caring teacher of Lily’s is described as having brown skin. A quick moving and emotionally charged but ultimately underdeveloped novel that explores an important subject. (Verse novel. 14-18)
About the Author
Sonya Sones has written five YA novels-in-verse: To Be Perfectly Honest (A Novel Based on an Untrue Story), Stop Pretending, One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies, What My Mother Doesn’t Know, and its companion, What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know. Her books have received many honors, including a Christopher Award, the Myra Cohn Livingston Poetry Award, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize nomination. But the coolest honor she ever got was when What My Mother Doesn’t Know made it onto the American Library Association’s list of the Top 100 Most Banned Books of the Decade (to see why, see p.46).
She lives near the beach in southern California, and only tells the occasional fib. Her website is www.sonyasones.com
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