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After the Ink Dries

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What does it mean when you thought you knew someone? What does it mean when that person is your new boyfriend? This page-turning suspense story asks what it takes to face hard truths about yourself and others, and how to find strength when you need it most. Sixteen-year-old Erica Walker is a webcomic artist who wants to fit in at her affluent new high school. Seventeen-year What does it mean when you thought you knew someone? What does it mean when that person is your new boyfriend? This page-turning suspense story asks what it takes to face hard truths about yourself and others, and how to find strength when you need it most. Sixteen-year-old Erica Walker is a webcomic artist who wants to fit in at her affluent new high school. Seventeen-year-old Thomas VanBrackel is an aspiring songwriter and reluctant lacrosse goalie who wants out from under his father’s thumb. After their electric first kiss at Saturday’s lacrosse match, Erica and Thomas are both elated to see where their new relationship could take them. The next morning, however, following a drunken house party, Erica wakes up half-clothed, and discovers words and names drawn in Sharpie in intimate places on her body—names belonging to Thomas’s lacrosse friends, including the boyfriend of Erica’s best friend. Devastated, Erica convinces herself Thomas wasn’t involved in this horrific so-called “prank”…until she discovers Thomas’s name on her skin, too. Told in alternating viewpoints, Erica seeks to uncover what happened while battling to keep evidence of her humiliation from leaking out, as Thomas grapples with his actions and who he thought he was. Woven throughout, illustrated graphic novel interstitials depict Erica’s alter ego superhero, Erica Strange, whose courage just might help Erica come through to the other side.


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What does it mean when you thought you knew someone? What does it mean when that person is your new boyfriend? This page-turning suspense story asks what it takes to face hard truths about yourself and others, and how to find strength when you need it most. Sixteen-year-old Erica Walker is a webcomic artist who wants to fit in at her affluent new high school. Seventeen-year What does it mean when you thought you knew someone? What does it mean when that person is your new boyfriend? This page-turning suspense story asks what it takes to face hard truths about yourself and others, and how to find strength when you need it most. Sixteen-year-old Erica Walker is a webcomic artist who wants to fit in at her affluent new high school. Seventeen-year-old Thomas VanBrackel is an aspiring songwriter and reluctant lacrosse goalie who wants out from under his father’s thumb. After their electric first kiss at Saturday’s lacrosse match, Erica and Thomas are both elated to see where their new relationship could take them. The next morning, however, following a drunken house party, Erica wakes up half-clothed, and discovers words and names drawn in Sharpie in intimate places on her body—names belonging to Thomas’s lacrosse friends, including the boyfriend of Erica’s best friend. Devastated, Erica convinces herself Thomas wasn’t involved in this horrific so-called “prank”…until she discovers Thomas’s name on her skin, too. Told in alternating viewpoints, Erica seeks to uncover what happened while battling to keep evidence of her humiliation from leaking out, as Thomas grapples with his actions and who he thought he was. Woven throughout, illustrated graphic novel interstitials depict Erica’s alter ego superhero, Erica Strange, whose courage just might help Erica come through to the other side.

30 review for After the Ink Dries

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    "Does a devastating event require a certain definition for it to be considered world-altering to the person it happened to?" Astounding, incredible, and poignant, this is one of the most powerful YA books I've ever read. Right off the bat, I feel the need to include some trigger warnings, as this book won't be for everyone. There is on page sexual assault, on page suicidal ideation, and an on page suicide attempt. All of these things are vital to the plot, and are handled with care and respect, p "Does a devastating event require a certain definition for it to be considered world-altering to the person it happened to?" Astounding, incredible, and poignant, this is one of the most powerful YA books I've ever read. Right off the bat, I feel the need to include some trigger warnings, as this book won't be for everyone. There is on page sexual assault, on page suicidal ideation, and an on page suicide attempt. All of these things are vital to the plot, and are handled with care and respect, portraying an, unfortunately, realistic viewpoint toward SA victims and how their assaults are handled by everyone involved. This is the first book I've happened to pick up where we get the POV from the female victim and also one of the male perpetrators, and this gave an extremely emotional and complex sight into what happened. I think I'm going to keep this review short, because anything I inject is just going to take away from the powerful message that this novel has to offer, but if you can handle the graphic, unsettling content involved, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I sobbed on and off the entire time I was reading this book, and I think it would be a profound teaching resource for the high school grade levels. Lots of discussions to be had surrounding this book, and I've already ordered a finished copy of this book for my personal shelves at home. *Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.

  2. 5 out of 5

    aly ☆彡

    tw: sexual assault, suicidal thoughts "There’s only learning how to survive something so horrible that living may sometimes feel impossible" Even days after finishing this, I still couldn't properly put words for this book. It is not one of the reads where I can simply point out what I like or dislike. But one thing for sure is that it will make you feel all sorts of feelings; mad, sad, disappointed, frustrated, relief, hopeful. It approaches a difficult but very important topic of sex tw: sexual assault, suicidal thoughts "There’s only learning how to survive something so horrible that living may sometimes feel impossible" Even days after finishing this, I still couldn't properly put words for this book. It is not one of the reads where I can simply point out what I like or dislike. But one thing for sure is that it will make you feel all sorts of feelings; mad, sad, disappointed, frustrated, relief, hopeful. It approaches a difficult but very important topic of sexual assault with great care and lays it out in such a way you couldn't stop reading. After the Ink Dries is written in a dual perspective, of Erica who struggles to understand what happened the night she was assaulted, as well as her boyfriend, Thomas who wrestles with the role he played on the night Erica was assaulted. And my heart shatters to see what Erica had to go through. The confusion, fear, shock and to think that many girls out there have to live what Erica lived is horrifying (because it happened). This book portrays how assaulters never care for the victim's future until it is theirs being jeopardized. How easy it is to undermine them by reducing the assault to just a prank, a joke until it wasn't. How at the end of the day, it's always the victim's fault for wearing revealing clothes, for being vulnerable but never the perpetrators who strip the choices from their victims. And to my women friends out there, always believe the victims in such cases of assault even if the perpetrator happened to be your boyfriend. Because predators are guilty until they're proven innocent. Case closed. In a way, this book is very impactful and the author does an excellent job writing it; gradually increasing the tension, letting the reader know that it is only a matter of time before everything comes apart. After the Ink Dries is a must-read for adolescent and adult readers alike as it will undoubtedly spark so much-needed discussion in our society. (As it should!)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Booktastically Amazing

    “It’s going to be okay.” No it’s not. I’m not okay. I don’t know how I am, but okay is not the word I am. This was agonizing- ............................... This is going to tear my skin into little strips so it can easily strangle my heart.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Makayla

    I don't even know where to start with this book.. so let's start with the obvious. I loved it. I finished this book faster than I've read any other in the past few years, I loved it that much. I didn't stop thinking about it while I was watching my show last night, I just wanted to see what happened next. I'll also preface this with the warning that there's a trigger warning at the beginning of this book. I'm no stranger to those, I love picking up a book that has a realistic feel to it and may I don't even know where to start with this book.. so let's start with the obvious. I loved it. I finished this book faster than I've read any other in the past few years, I loved it that much. I didn't stop thinking about it while I was watching my show last night, I just wanted to see what happened next. I'll also preface this with the warning that there's a trigger warning at the beginning of this book. I'm no stranger to those, I love picking up a book that has a realistic feel to it and may take on some very serious subjects. I didn't expect it to be any different than any other book that may have a trigger warning at the beginning, but it was. It went into depth. It almost felt like what I used to write when I was a teenager. It was raw. It spreads an amazing message, not only for those who may have been a victim, but for those on the sidelines too. That was my favorite part, it had both sides of the situation and their thoughts written true to what they may be feeling in that moment. It felt like they were teenagers, ones who didn't know what they got themselves into. Ones who made a very drastic mistake and have to face the consequences. There was one character who stood out to me. It wasn't either of the main characters, and they weren't even a teenager. But I had an absolute hatred for Thomas's father. Not only because of how awful he was to Thomas. I'm so glad that Cassie wrote him into this, because he, and people like him, are the reason that these victims never get the closure they deserve. I know the exact moment where my heart broke too, where I knew I was going to love how this book portrayed itself. The hallway. Anyone who has read or will be reading this will know exactly what I mean by that. I can't tell you how many times I could feel my heart aching for Erica after that moment. Had that moment been different, it may have changed the entire course of the book and those characters lives. If you're able to read this, and I totally understand if you can't simply because of how heavy this content is, please do. Even if you've never experienced this sort of thing first hand because the way that Cassie writes this makes you understand, even just a little bit, what happens. What can happen. And it's so important. I love this book, and when it comes out you bet that I am going to do my hardest to get people to read it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    This book made me feel so many things. Assault being the main premise of a book is a difficult thing. I myself don't know if I would say the act itself is triggering for me as a reader, but how it's written and explored and dealt with definitely is. And I always find it hard to review a book where the plot centers around SA, because it feels wrong to use the descriptors I usually would in other reviews- words like "enjoyed" or "liked", etc. What I can firmly say is that this is a well-done, well-w This book made me feel so many things. Assault being the main premise of a book is a difficult thing. I myself don't know if I would say the act itself is triggering for me as a reader, but how it's written and explored and dealt with definitely is. And I always find it hard to review a book where the plot centers around SA, because it feels wrong to use the descriptors I usually would in other reviews- words like "enjoyed" or "liked", etc. What I can firmly say is that this is a well-done, well-written book. In fact, I was surprised it was from a debut author because the story was laid out with such craft, that it was shocking to me that it wasn't Cassie Gustafson's second or third book. I don't really know what I can say to sum up this book, or how to review certain aspects of it like I would in other book reviews. Erica Walker wakes up in someone else's bedroom, covered in horrible words sharpied all over her body, with no memory of the previous night's events. Reading her struggle with the feelings of confusion, the fear, the anger, the shame- it was almost too real for me. I felt it so deep in my gut that it's stayed with me all throughout the day, through my shower and grocery shopping and dinner, even while I'm writing this review. The absolute violation Erica goes through, from the initial incident, to the pictures and videos circulating between cellphones and groupchats, broke my heart. Because you know it happens in real life, you can see it lain out so clearly- you know that somewhere in the world, there's a teenage girl going through that same hell this fictional character is describing. The other point of view in the book comes from Thomas, Erica's literal brand-new boyfriend, a lacrosse player who's teammates names were signed in black ink over Erica's skin. I'm going to put my thoughts about Thomas under a spoiler cut, because. Yeah. (view spoiler)[Thomas's POV starts off mildly enough. A teenage boy who's a bit confused, because he says he doesn't remember what happened, doesn't know why his friends are snickering over their phones, leering at the girl he was so very into. It's hard for me to write about Thomas's side of the story post-book, because my final thoughts are made up of what's revealed to you as the story goes on. Thomas talks about being head-over-heels into Erica, and then ever so slightly, each chapter we get from his perspective veers more into... something I honestly can't really describe, but just makes me want to bash my head, or his, into a wall. His actions, his thought process... every installment of his side of the story progressively had me clenching my knuckles around this book. It's like that John Mulaney "So you know how I'm filled with rage?" bit, except it's not really funny because there are so many people out there like Thomas, it's equal parts infuriating and heart breaking and a thousand other things. Every subsequent choice Thomas made served to infuriate me more and more, because jesus christ, there are guys who think the way he does out there. Guys who think that because they didn't do the act, that that makes them better, more noble. That they don't deserve to have their futures messed up because hey, they didn't actually rape someone. The part where Thomas talked about how if he had made different choices, maybe he and Erica could've had a future together hit me so hard; I actually had to grab my copy and transcribe it because it's been bouncing around my brain all day "Maybe if I'd made a different choice, Eric and I would be hanging out right now. Maybe she'd love this slide. We'd try to fit, but we'd get stuck and laugh about it. Maybe we'd date through high school and help each other through all the world's suck. She'd go to CalArts and major in Animation, and I'd go to Thornton for songwriting while keeping up with guitar. We'd check out weird museums and wild concerts but we'd always love the beach the most. We'd date for a long time. Maybe forever. And we'd both be so happy." And that's the kick in the gut, isn't it? Thomas may have loved her, but he fucked up. He fucked up in a way that was so monumental and life-changing that Erika tries to kill herself. His actions affected someone else's life, forever, in a completely unforgiveable way. Because he made one stupid, selfish, choice after the other, always choosing the wrong thing; to blame Erika for Zach kissing her at the party, to walk out out of that room and leave her in a vulnerable position when he knew damn well what could happen, to be angry and take everything out on her, to focusing on how what happened would effect his college career rather than the ACTUAL VICTIM'S LIFE, to lying to the police initially about his relationship with Erika, to willingly go along with his jerk-ass lawyer father's plan to discredit and invalidate her... it's sickening. It's sad and sickening and I have no sympathy for him, but I don't think you're exactly supposed to? For him to be involved in that, maybe some YA novel would give them a happily ever after (which would be... problematic to say the least), where he sticks up to all his friends and begs her for forgiveness, but this book isn't really about a love story between Thomas and Erika. Yes, it is about their relationship with each other, but it's also about their relationship with the truth, with the people around them, and with themselves. Thomas may have come clean in the end, but it's not a "the truth will set you free and more importantly, set everything right" type moment. It's him having his brother (who was the only side character other than Amber who I didn't feel a unnaturally high level of fury towards) look at him and go "you screwed up. you hurt someone. this is bigger than you feeling sorry for yourself about the choices you made. this is not redemption, this is about you doing the right thing for once in this whole messed up saga". (hide spoiler)] ANYWAYS. This book has a bit of a mixed-media thing going for it- comic panels featuring Erika's superhero alter-ego who she tries to take inspiration and courage from are interspersed ever so often in the book, which is just such a unique and cool premise that I thought leant itself really well to the story. It's inventive and unique and visualizes Erika's coping mechanism of drawing comics for the reader, letting you see how Erika's brain works through the trauma. This book doesn't have a happy ending, but rather a hopeful one, and I think it's honestly a really necessary and important read. There's no over the top, overblown teen drama that you'd see on the type of tv show that honestly really shouldn't be pursuing a sexual assault storyline. It's actually almost insidious that way (not the book, but rather the characters), because the perpetrators present it all as being so damn normal , that it's a joke, a prank, that Erika is blowing it out of proportion, that she's taking it the wrong way- again, it's too real. People are like this, there are people who think that way. Which is why this is such a vital story that needs telling, even if it's technically a fictional one. There are so many young girls out there who have lived what Erika lived, or something like it. If this book can make one person feel less alone, or make someone reflect on the way they think about consent, or open someone's eyes to the reality of being a girl in the world... that's a powerful thing. And props to Cassie Gustafson for writing it so damn well.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David Gustafson

    Full transparency: Cassie is my daughter-in-law. That said: she has an incredible talent for telling the kind of story that is engaging; that stirs emotions; that excels in verisimilitude (not many do in depicting key issues in the lives of today’s teens); and that moves like a speeding train (no boring interludes in this one). She gets into the nitty gritty of one of the worst kinds of crisis young adults can, and too often do, confront: sexual assault and abuse. From that springs gruesome fall Full transparency: Cassie is my daughter-in-law. That said: she has an incredible talent for telling the kind of story that is engaging; that stirs emotions; that excels in verisimilitude (not many do in depicting key issues in the lives of today’s teens); and that moves like a speeding train (no boring interludes in this one). She gets into the nitty gritty of one of the worst kinds of crisis young adults can, and too often do, confront: sexual assault and abuse. From that springs gruesome fallout: suicide ideation, self harm, attempted suicide, bullying and intense victim-shaming (which she warns about at the beginning). Because of the way she leads the reader through the graphic details, it’s very difficult to put the book down. I’ve read it twice and both times I felt that rising tension that comes with wanting to know what will happen next (even when you already know!). Yeah, she’s brilliant.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Meliss

    **Actual rating: 4.5 stars** This book knocks you on your ass in the best way possible. It is breathtaking. It’s books like these that make me love reading—books that have the power to change lives. It’s a poignant narrative of one girl’s assault that artfully depicts the impact, consequences, and complexities of sexual assault. You will cry, and it will be worth every tear.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ken McCanless

    This was exceptional. After reading it through, I've leafed through it multiple times again and it is absolutely both compelling and relevant. Should be mandatory reading for young adults, but regardless of how you come at it, you will leave a novel with a lot of pain with a lot of optimism. I do know Cassie and so am vested in her success, but this was my first experience reading her in-depth and seeing her unique talent for drawing the reader in and making characters both sympathetic and again This was exceptional. After reading it through, I've leafed through it multiple times again and it is absolutely both compelling and relevant. Should be mandatory reading for young adults, but regardless of how you come at it, you will leave a novel with a lot of pain with a lot of optimism. I do know Cassie and so am vested in her success, but this was my first experience reading her in-depth and seeing her unique talent for drawing the reader in and making characters both sympathetic and again, very compelling. Sexual abuse and assault and suicidal ideation cannot be easy to write about, but Cassie navigates the characters' development perfectly and allows anyone to learn from her story. I found myself learning lessons and feeling a kinship with her protagonist Erica and rooting for her so hard. There are no punches pulled in this novel and none should be. This is naked emotion exceptionally rendered and I hope you will pick this one up.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own. First things first, there is a lot to be aware of in this book before you begin. Content includes sexual assault (on page), suicide ideation (on page), attempted suicide (on page), and verbal and physical assaults. Please be advised. Gustafson has taken on a very serious issue (date rape, sexual assault, mental illness) and written a compelling and heart-breaking book. Fo Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own. First things first, there is a lot to be aware of in this book before you begin. Content includes sexual assault (on page), suicide ideation (on page), attempted suicide (on page), and verbal and physical assaults. Please be advised. Gustafson has taken on a very serious issue (date rape, sexual assault, mental illness) and written a compelling and heart-breaking book. For those readers who have been reading YA for a while, you might remember books like Speak and Inexcusable. In my mind, these would have been two perfectly paired stories to do a study of-the assault of a female at a party, and the story of a guy who would never do something like that. This book, with its dual narratives, does just that. You get to feel how the victim feels and you get to experience the days after in both her mind and the perpetrators. And it is intense. Erica wakes up the morning after a party in a room she doesn't recognize. She is half-naked, covered in Sharpie with obscene words and names written on her, and she can't remember what happened. But the names on her tell her who was there. Most of her new boyfriends Lacrosse buddies have signed various parts of her body, and she is horrified to think about what could have happened. After she manages to get home, she realizes she has to find out what actually happened that night. But when the photos and the videos start to come out, not everyone has the reaction she expected. How could anyone think that she, the lone female, was responsible for what five guys did while she was passed out drunk? But blaming her is easier than facing your own responsibility, or at least that's what Thomas, her newish boyfriend tells himself. As the pressure mounts, and more people find out what happened, it's clear everything is coming to a boiling point. And all that pressure is bound to cause breaks. Highly recommend. It's 4 stars instead of 5 because of some of the writing/transitions, but overall, this is a great book. Definitely a first purchase for collections serving readers in grades 10 and up. Be aware of graphic content though.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Beth Menendez

    This book is hard to read- not the writing, as that is something that you fly through. The subject matter of this story told over four days is heart wrenching. There are no easy outcomes to this story and it is full of characters you easily will hate. It ends so quickly you have to catch your breath and find someone who can handle the heaviness so you can say, What did I just read!?! How should the next 3 months look for these kids? What is the right answer for those who stand by and watch assau This book is hard to read- not the writing, as that is something that you fly through. The subject matter of this story told over four days is heart wrenching. There are no easy outcomes to this story and it is full of characters you easily will hate. It ends so quickly you have to catch your breath and find someone who can handle the heaviness so you can say, What did I just read!?! How should the next 3 months look for these kids? What is the right answer for those who stand by and watch assault happen even while knowing that speaking up will damage their futures? So many thoughts and feelings. That is what makes an excellent read and this one is excellent though it is doubtful I could read it again. Very tough subject matter with an ending that left me needing another chapter to know how Erica does. How does Thomas fare? Definitely take the trigger warnings seriously.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    Hoooooooooly cow. I had kind of drifted away from young adult fiction for a while but I sure am glad I decided to give this a try. It grabs you right from the beginning and doesn't let do- I ended up reading the whole think in one sitting! It was so intense from the start that it made me legitimately anxious. I don't want to be a broken record in a sea of comparable reviews, but there is a strong "pro" that jumped out at me while I read as well as a minor "con". Pro: I LOVE that Gustafson didn't Hoooooooooly cow. I had kind of drifted away from young adult fiction for a while but I sure am glad I decided to give this a try. It grabs you right from the beginning and doesn't let do- I ended up reading the whole think in one sitting! It was so intense from the start that it made me legitimately anxious. I don't want to be a broken record in a sea of comparable reviews, but there is a strong "pro" that jumped out at me while I read as well as a minor "con". Pro: I LOVE that Gustafson didn't pull any punches when it comes to the dark and graphic situation that that Erica is subject to in After the Ink Dries. Not to say that the descriptions of events and feelings are grotesquely graphic, but her writing is brutally honest in its description of assault, emotional suffering, and of (view spoiler)[ suicide (hide spoiler)] . It really drives home the gravity of the situation and that justice and recovery aren't as straightforward as one might think. The only time it felt just a bit too much was (view spoiler)[ when she was describing Erica attempting suicide and the types/amount of pills used to do so. Recommendations based on research published by SAMSHA, EIC, and other national mental health organizations suggest not being overly descriptive about the process of- or implements used in- attempting suicide. Speaking now from my own personal experiences with depression, anxiety, and suicide, the description of pills, how many she used, and how she used them could definitely have been harmful as there was a point where I wanted to commit suicide but wasn't sure how. HOWEVER! I really love the way she wrote about Erica's experience in the hospital once she came-to following her attempt. I feel as if so many YA novels about suicide depict it as someone just waking up from a deep sleep or just a nap. Gustafson describes the pain and discomfort that goes with being intubated as well as needing a catheter. She even touches on the organ damage and hearing loss that a pill overdose can result in. I really, really appreciated these additions as they prevent the suicide attempt from being glamorized and teach young people things about overdosing that they might not have known. It's a strong deterrent, in my opinion. (hide spoiler)] Con: This is just a very small detail I noticed a few times, but there were several times where Erica or Thomas would be recalling something from the past and those descriptions would be much longer than was necessary to the flow of the story. There was just a tad too much focus on minutiae. But this gripe is so small, it's quickly dwarfed by the significance of the subject and the truly great writing. Overall, I am really so impressed with After the Ink Dries. This isn't a new subject in YA fiction (not by a long shot) but the way Gustafson writes about it feels new, fresh, and eye-opening. This broke me out of a serious reading funk and I am so glad I picked it up.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    Powerful! This novel will rank right up there with Speak. Quirky Erica loves spending time with lacrosse player Thomas. After a post-game party spins out of control, their lives and those of their friends and teammates will be forever changed. Some will show their great strength, others will wallow in weakness. An unforgettable story that takes place over a few days, but one that will be difficult to forget. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to be an early reader in exchange Powerful! This novel will rank right up there with Speak. Quirky Erica loves spending time with lacrosse player Thomas. After a post-game party spins out of control, their lives and those of their friends and teammates will be forever changed. Some will show their great strength, others will wallow in weakness. An unforgettable story that takes place over a few days, but one that will be difficult to forget. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to be an early reader in exchange for my review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Eerie Sseumiya

    I do not usually read YA books because it's stressing me about the things that could happen during this phase of our lives– and I'm currently at it. To be frank, I only picked this up because of our book club's upcoming discussion. And with the blurb, I kinda had a hunch that I wasn't going to be comfortable with this book... I have always avoided stories with themes like this but I guess, starting from this day on, I'll give 'em a shot. If I could say a word about the content itself, it is defi I do not usually read YA books because it's stressing me about the things that could happen during this phase of our lives– and I'm currently at it. To be frank, I only picked this up because of our book club's upcoming discussion. And with the blurb, I kinda had a hunch that I wasn't going to be comfortable with this book... I have always avoided stories with themes like this but I guess, starting from this day on, I'll give 'em a shot. If I could say a word about the content itself, it is definitely an eye-opener. So many Ericas out there are experiencing the same trauma, the same sharks circling around their heads, the same shame and embarrassment which is fueled by insensitive and disgusting people, the same attempts of running away from the problem, the same thoughts of k*lling thyself, and the same belief that it's never going to be okay again. Because that horrid event is going to haunt them not just for days, but for months, years, and possibly for a lifetime. That is, if they're going to spare themselves from su*c*de ideation brought by the incessant victim-blaming situations. The story necessitated the further understanding of what it means to be sexually assaulted as it involved situations that happens in real life. Erica represents the girls who are afraid to speak up, thinking that the only way to end their misery is to hurt themselves. There will always be Zacs who are the perpetrators of such activities, and Stallions, Forests, and Rickys– the enablers feeding the ego and confidence of the perpetrator. There is a Tina who will record the whole thing, a fellow female who tries so hard to be liked by the boys even if it means putting another female into harm. Sadly, Thomases exist as well. They had the power to stop and save the vulnerable victim, but it can't be denied that they're one of the enablers. And Caylees, who believe their obviously douchebag boyfriends more than their bestfriends. I am taking pauses in between to give myself a break, since I'm heavily affected by the scenes. I just cannot fathom how both your boyfriend and bestfriend can turn their backs to you, when Erica is the victim, the one whose life was ruined. Alice Dubois once articulated, “It’s the wicked who go merrily on.” And the victim who die in ditches. I appreciate Cassie for putting content warning at the beginning, it really helped me with my expectations regarding the book itself. Pain and fury were really inevitable and I was so enraged that I want to punch most characters right into their face. I gave it 5 stars because this is brave, this is real, and the author did not fail in depicting situations with accuracy by weaving true to life experiences into words that made me feel as if I was in their world. Pick this up. It provided me bunch of realizations that I thought I knew before, but this has much wider scope than what I've already learned. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘰𝘸𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘭𝘶𝘥𝘦 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭 𝘴𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘴 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬, 𝘴𝘰 𝘪𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘪𝘭𝘦𝘥, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦'𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘺 𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘪𝘭𝘦𝘳-𝘧𝘳𝘦𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸. . . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . . . . 𝘏𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘢𝘭𝘧𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘔𝘰𝘮’𝘴 𝘩𝘢𝘮𝘱𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘯 𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘪𝘻𝘦𝘥 𝘛-𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘳𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘫𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘴. 𝘈𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘶𝘣𝘴, 𝘪𝘵’𝘴 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘴𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘴. 𝘐 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘥𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘢𝘵 𝘮𝘺 𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘤𝘭𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴—𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘺 𝘴𝘬𝘪𝘳𝘵, 𝘴𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘵𝘰𝘱. 𝘔𝘪𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘣𝘳𝘢. 𝘜𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘸𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘥𝘦 𝘰𝘶𝘵. 𝙈𝙖𝙮𝙗𝙚 𝙞𝙛 𝙮𝙤𝙪’𝙙 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙣 𝙟𝙚𝙖𝙣𝙨 𝙡𝙖𝙨𝙩 𝙣𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙖𝙙, 𝙘𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙙 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙨𝙠𝙞𝙣…. Erica has a lot of "maybes" but this should never include this one. Perhaps she could've really worn jeans but if she were to be in the same party, with the same flock, the guys will still do it. The choice of clothing will neither affect nor change what happened to her that night because predators will always be predators. Opportunists will still remain opportunists. Being so wasted isn't her fault as well, because if these guys had the decency and respect, they wouldn't dare do that to her. 𝘔𝘺 𝘧𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘥𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘩𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘴𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘯, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘢 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘥 𝘐 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘐’𝘷𝘦 𝘣𝘳𝘰𝘬𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘵, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘯𝘰. 𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘺𝘦𝘵, 𝘪𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘥𝘪𝘥𝘯’𝘵 𝘳𝘢𝘱𝘦 𝘮𝘦, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘸𝘩𝘺 𝘥𝘰 𝘐 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘴𝘰 𝙫𝙞𝙤𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙙? *muffled cries* The problem with today's society entails a variety of myths and misconceptions about being sexually assaulted. It doesn't always have to be rape, for the victims to feel violated. By any means, it doesn't make their situation "less" compared to those who had been r*ped, and their concerns will always be valid. Sexual assault could be in a lot of forms, forms that some people think are normal things and shouldn't be a big of a deal. “𝘿𝙤𝙚𝙨 𝙖 𝙙𝙚𝙫𝙖𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙧𝙚𝙦𝙪𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙖 𝙘𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙖𝙞𝙣 𝙙𝙚𝙛𝙞𝙣𝙞𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙞𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙗𝙚 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙙 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙡𝙙-𝙖𝙡𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙤𝙣 𝙞𝙩 𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤?” I'm glad there's an Amber who cares which will stand by your side and help you overcome your fears. Or a Michael who will educate and straighten out the fact that it was never the victim's fault. It's true that some people will side with the victim only if it's convenient for them. But if the offender is someone whom they've known for a long time, they will imply that it was just a "mistake" and the victim somehow played a part in making that happen. Which is not and will never be true. Offenders will only think about the future when theirs are at risk. But they haven't thought about the victim's, they haven't thought of the consequences, constantly arguing that everything is just a "joke." When it's not. That it is serious and should be taken accordingly. I also don't think Thomas redeemed himself by spilling out the truth. It's just the right thing to do, what is considered as the "bare minimum" and isn't even a form of redemption. I wasn't that satisfied with the ending because I'm looking for a scene where they will all end up in jail or they're having a hard time reaching out their dreams, but it's hopeful. Afterall, having the courage to speak up the truth isn't the end yet. And Erica will be filled with hope, even at least the slightest ray of hope, that someday, everything is going to be fine. ***

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    When I found out that Cassie Gustafson, someone I have known for most of my life, was writing a book, I knew I had to preorder a copy and read it right away. When it arrived on Book Release Tuesday, I was floored and After the Ink Dries immediately cut the line in my TBR. My overall reaction to finishing this book is *deep breath in through the nose, calm measured breath out the mouth*. This book contains heavy content warnings that you can find on the front page, acknowledging that themes invol When I found out that Cassie Gustafson, someone I have known for most of my life, was writing a book, I knew I had to preorder a copy and read it right away. When it arrived on Book Release Tuesday, I was floored and After the Ink Dries immediately cut the line in my TBR. My overall reaction to finishing this book is *deep breath in through the nose, calm measured breath out the mouth*. This book contains heavy content warnings that you can find on the front page, acknowledging that themes involving sexual assault, rape, bullying, and suicidal ideation/self-harm exist within the pages. The book also has informative resource listings pertaining to these themes cataloged in the back. This is a powerful story that has multiple layers. It challenges arguments of consent, explores teenage insecurities, and begs the question, "Is it really that bad when we know it could have been worse?" I navigated between rage and deep sadness through most of this book. Gustafson does an impeccable job of developing characters that will surprise you, disappoint you, and sometimes downright piss you off! While I am nearing almost 40yrs old, my memory is no stranger to the woes we experience as teenagers, as our brains and bodies rapidly develop and we try to make sense of the world we live in and the impact we have on other people. There is a reason why many of the mistakes we make as people, happen as we are reaching adulthood. What's different and more challenging for teens today is they exist within a world that idolizes social media and weaponizes technology to encourage bullying behavior. Individuals with immature critical thinking skills and skewed ideas of accountability have access to more tools to gaslight and shame victims, so it is no wonder that self-harming behaviors and suicide attempts are high for this demographic. As animals with a communal biology, we crave reciprocated belonging and acceptance, and when that is used as a means to ostracize and belittle us, the damage can be irreparable. Gustafson has given us all a rare gift. An opportunity to strengthen communication with our young adults and empower ourselves not to be silent bystanders. Not only will parents get insight as to what kind of world our kids are growing up in, but it will open the door for discussions on sexuality, consent, and boundaries. It can strengthen child-parent bonds and re-enforce the message that victims should be believed, supported, and given appropriate space to heal. Oh, and did I mention there are also some cool illustrations and story panels of Erica Strange, the superhero alter-ego of the protagonist?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Breegan Johnson

    Phenomenal book. I read it in just about 2 days because I didn’t want to put it down. The author navigates through very sensitive/challenging/upsetting topics with incredible grace and compassion. This book is told from both the victim’s viewpoint and the viewpoint of (one of) the assailants, which gives a unique perspective. As the mom of boys, it opened my eyes to a whole new conversation I need to have with my kids…that good kids can easily find themselves in bad situations & how to navigate t Phenomenal book. I read it in just about 2 days because I didn’t want to put it down. The author navigates through very sensitive/challenging/upsetting topics with incredible grace and compassion. This book is told from both the victim’s viewpoint and the viewpoint of (one of) the assailants, which gives a unique perspective. As the mom of boys, it opened my eyes to a whole new conversation I need to have with my kids…that good kids can easily find themselves in bad situations & how to navigate that. A must-read for teens and their parents!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Powerful, Moving, Tense, and Beautiful. The pages flew by for me as I couldn't put this down. The author paints such a vivid portal into the mind and life of a person dealing with such a haunting, terrible situation. But there are glimmers of hope and beautiful affirmations to counter the darkness. Amazing! Powerful, Moving, Tense, and Beautiful. The pages flew by for me as I couldn't put this down. The author paints such a vivid portal into the mind and life of a person dealing with such a haunting, terrible situation. But there are glimmers of hope and beautiful affirmations to counter the darkness. Amazing!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Crone

    Okay this book is a little darker than what I usally read. This book shows real life issues. Some parts were hard to read. The author did such a good job writing this and bringing all the emotions in. Really look into the trigger warnings before you pick this on up. This book wasn't bad I just felt like it wasn't completed. Okay this book is a little darker than what I usally read. This book shows real life issues. Some parts were hard to read. The author did such a good job writing this and bringing all the emotions in. Really look into the trigger warnings before you pick this on up. This book wasn't bad I just felt like it wasn't completed.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anne Nelson

    A good book with a very plausible premise and earnest treatment of the chief protagonist's emotional state. There's definitely emotional truth here. That said, there are problems. The protagonists are remarkably flimsy, the side characters are never more than types/tropes, and the clothing and pop culture references seem peculiarly dated (skinny jeans, Tory Burch, guitar-driven rock, perhaps Emily the Strange). Superhero comic interludes add little to the narrative and seem out-of-keeping artist A good book with a very plausible premise and earnest treatment of the chief protagonist's emotional state. There's definitely emotional truth here. That said, there are problems. The protagonists are remarkably flimsy, the side characters are never more than types/tropes, and the clothing and pop culture references seem peculiarly dated (skinny jeans, Tory Burch, guitar-driven rock, perhaps Emily the Strange). Superhero comic interludes add little to the narrative and seem out-of-keeping artistically for a character whose stated artistic influences are Tim Burton and Edward Gorey (and, again, note the dated references). Dual POVs, but the second protagonist is so deeply in denial that his storyline does little to improve narrative complexity. Readers may feel frustrated with the seemingly abrupt conclusion but it's my own opinion that too many YA titles about sexual assault have improbably tidy and satisfying endings. To Gustafson's credit, she has very specifically opted to avoid this. While the book has some real problems, the ending is not one of them.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Yssa

    As much as possible I hesitate reading YA books but I'm kinda thrilled after reading my friends review. Im a bit disappointed with the ending though. I hope I'll never get to meet/encounter people like Boyd and Caylee. And if so, please give me someone like Amber❤️ As much as possible I hesitate reading YA books but I'm kinda thrilled after reading my friends review. Im a bit disappointed with the ending though. I hope I'll never get to meet/encounter people like Boyd and Caylee. And if so, please give me someone like Amber❤️

  20. 4 out of 5

    Abbie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Honestly wished we could have seen the assholes being charged/jailed in an epilogue

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    Holy hell this book is a firestarter. To get it out of the way, ample content warnings: sexual assault and harassment, bullying and victim shaming, suicidal ideation and self harm (also provided in the book itself). Read it in an evening. This is a page turning, real depiction of what happens when a worst possible scenario happens to teenagers, and its aftermath. It is messy, and poorly communicated; it is guilt, and shame, and entitlement, and despair. It is authentic. It does not pretend that Holy hell this book is a firestarter. To get it out of the way, ample content warnings: sexual assault and harassment, bullying and victim shaming, suicidal ideation and self harm (also provided in the book itself). Read it in an evening. This is a page turning, real depiction of what happens when a worst possible scenario happens to teenagers, and its aftermath. It is messy, and poorly communicated; it is guilt, and shame, and entitlement, and despair. It is authentic. It does not pretend that good will always prevail. In terms of my personal reaction as a reader, this is the book I wish had been published while I was in high school instead of Thirteen Reasons Why (necessary sigh) or any other sappy and detached media depiction of bullying or a particularly teenage vein of existential pain. Perhaps because you start the book going immediately into a high-stakes, hypervigilant story, it follows that the narrative doesn't evoke plot points for shock value--they just escalate in a way that reflect what immature, emotionally heightened kids under pressure might do under the circumstances. This includes making mistakes, not telling adults or people who can help what happened, etc (hence, worst-case scenario). There are a LOT of grey areas, actions, and characters in this book, which augment just how believable and uncomfortable it is. This is a realistic depiction of sexual assault, bullying, and quote-on-quote justice at a time and in a world in which Chanel Millers must still testify against Brock Turners, and known assaulters get away with it only to sit on the most powerful seats in government and industry despite causing irreparable harm. I can tell it's going to get mixed reviews (it's HEAVY), but will resonate for those who need it. ARC provided by Simon Pulse through the American Booksellers Association Kids Indies Introduce Summer/Fall 2021 panel.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Insert Name Here

    Phew. This is not an easy read. The author is not joking about this trigger warnings, and I did have to take a break here and there as I read. I'm glad I stuck with it, but I understand why some readers would have to stop or put it down. The book is written from deep inside the minds of our two main characters, Erica and Thomas, and picks up immediately after the infamous party, with characters recalling or discussing things that happened beforehand. The secondary characters run the gamut from co Phew. This is not an easy read. The author is not joking about this trigger warnings, and I did have to take a break here and there as I read. I'm glad I stuck with it, but I understand why some readers would have to stop or put it down. The book is written from deep inside the minds of our two main characters, Erica and Thomas, and picks up immediately after the infamous party, with characters recalling or discussing things that happened beforehand. The secondary characters run the gamut from concerned bystander, to hanger on, to 'just having a laugh and regrets it afterwards' to actually apparently pyschopathic, and all the variations inbetween. (I'm considering the scale as running from Amber to Zac, to everyone else falling somewhere inbetween.) Again, I'm astounded that anyone manages to survive high school nowadays, with everything saved onlince and shared at the simple click of a button, and the freedom people feel to be really horrendously horrible to each other online. I'm endlessly upset by the inventive ways people can be awful to each other when they don't have to face up to it, but the more we look at and discuss these things the more we can do to stop them. Also, this all takes place over four days. That's how quickly someone's life can fall apart. Just four days. I'm not sure I can say I enjoyed this read, because it really is difficult in spots, but I'm very glad that I stuck with it and got through, and I hope other people will feel the same way about it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Caitie

    This was a very impactful book, I think it'll stick with me for a while. I found Erica to be a very compelling character, I was rooting for her the entire book. I also appreciated the content warning that the author provided at the beginning of the book, which include: sexual assault, bullying, victims shaming and a suicide attempt. The plot revolves Erica waking up in the aftermath of a party at a classmate's house, covered in writing all over her body, saying things like "slut," and commenting This was a very impactful book, I think it'll stick with me for a while. I found Erica to be a very compelling character, I was rooting for her the entire book. I also appreciated the content warning that the author provided at the beginning of the book, which include: sexual assault, bullying, victims shaming and a suicide attempt. The plot revolves Erica waking up in the aftermath of a party at a classmate's house, covered in writing all over her body, saying things like "slut," and commenting on how good Erica looks. Erica is understandably horrified by this, but doesn't remember anything, which scares her more. Erica reasons that the only explanation is that they took advantage of her while she was drunk--she recalls drinking, but drank more than she thought. In her rush home, she realizes that she's missed out on helping her mom out with something for her job. Throughout the book, Erica's narrative is interspliced with that of Thomas--Erica's classmate whom she was kind of friends with. Thomas was involved with Erica's assault, but doesn't think he didn't do anything wrong (and neither does his parents). However, Thomas begins to realize that standing by is just as bad as doing nothing and Erica realizes who her true friends are and where her support system really is.

  24. 5 out of 5

    PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

    After a party, Erica awakens groggy with boys’ names written on her body in sharpie. With no memory, she tries to piece together what happened. Told in Erica and her boyfriend Thomas’s points of view AFTER THE INK DRIES tells the story of the fallout of a sexual assault by popular jocks and a victim struggling to find her voice. The power of Cassie Gustafson’s words is the strongest component of AFTER THE INK DRIES. Gustafson strings together emotional, heart pulsing words in Erica’s POV during t After a party, Erica awakens groggy with boys’ names written on her body in sharpie. With no memory, she tries to piece together what happened. Told in Erica and her boyfriend Thomas’s points of view AFTER THE INK DRIES tells the story of the fallout of a sexual assault by popular jocks and a victim struggling to find her voice. The power of Cassie Gustafson’s words is the strongest component of AFTER THE INK DRIES. Gustafson strings together emotional, heart pulsing words in Erica’s POV during the aftermath of the assault and her most painful moments though uneven pacing and an unrealistically quick timeline water down the emotion. Most of the characters are tropes you’ve seen before, especially if you’ve ever read similar books. The sharpie component is the only unique part of the story. I’m glad enough books like AFTER THE INK DRIES exist so that this book is not unique in young adult literature.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Evelina

    ♾⭐️ this is my favorite book I have read hands-down. It was so beautifully written and like before I had no clue what beautifully written meant but this is a prime example. There was no boring part whatsoever. I loved Erica so much she was such a great main character and so strong and was battling a lot and I just couldn’t get enough of her. The story felt very real not just fabricated to be entertaining. I also appreciated the ending and that’s all I’m gonna say. Great debut novel from Cassie Gust ♾⭐️ this is my favorite book I have read hands-down. It was so beautifully written and like before I had no clue what beautifully written meant but this is a prime example. There was no boring part whatsoever. I loved Erica so much she was such a great main character and so strong and was battling a lot and I just couldn’t get enough of her. The story felt very real not just fabricated to be entertaining. I also appreciated the ending and that’s all I’m gonna say. Great debut novel from Cassie Gustafson and you best believe I will be purchasing any book with her name on it. Instantly became an instant-buy author for me. I can’t wait for her next book to come out! PLZ READ THIS BOOK

  26. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    I read this book straight through without looking up. I can’t express everything I feel about it- because I feel so many things and I know I will continue to process it for a long time. I FELT every bit of it because of its honesty, it’s realness- the horror and the shame and the despair and frustration. And then the blessed relief of the truth being acknowledged and the saving grace and power in that. This is such a beautiful book, even while being about an extremely difficult situation. It is I read this book straight through without looking up. I can’t express everything I feel about it- because I feel so many things and I know I will continue to process it for a long time. I FELT every bit of it because of its honesty, it’s realness- the horror and the shame and the despair and frustration. And then the blessed relief of the truth being acknowledged and the saving grace and power in that. This is such a beautiful book, even while being about an extremely difficult situation. It is written with such heart and such skill that I can’t imagine anyone being untouched by it. Read it!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emily Song

    Please before reading look up the trigger warnings. This book does an phenomenal job of detailing the effects of sexual assault and how it affects everyone. It’s able to showcase the consequences of not talking to someone afterwards and being in a state of denial. Also does a spectacular job of showing just how horrible people can be and just how far someone will go to convince themself that they’re not the aggressor.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maisarah Ghazali

    This book hurts me from start until before the ending. You would wish that you could control Erica's action but at one point you would give up and try to understand her situation instead. How hard it is to deal with her situation. The world is cruel, so cruel and I'm so proud of Erica. You know who else is cruel? The author! She makes me fall in love and care for Erica but I couldn't hug or comfort her T^T Read this book please. This book hurts me from start until before the ending. You would wish that you could control Erica's action but at one point you would give up and try to understand her situation instead. How hard it is to deal with her situation. The world is cruel, so cruel and I'm so proud of Erica. You know who else is cruel? The author! She makes me fall in love and care for Erica but I couldn't hug or comfort her T^T Read this book please.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mella

    This was a difficult but compulsive read. I both didn’t want to lose myself and submerge my thoughts with that of the main character but I could not stop reading . I alternated between empathy, frustrations and hate towards the characters. Erica and Thomas are well developed and this story pulls you into the heart of what constitutes ‘stealing pieces of a person’ and the consequences/price that not only the victims pay but the characters are left with for their theft.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Basia

    As someone who works in the mental health field and has seen many teen girls feeling lost and completely alone, this book with be their beacon of hope. This story is compelling, tragic, enlightening, heart wrenching, hopeful…. I have never felt so protective over a character as I did for Erica. 5 stars does not do this book justice and I cannot wait to read more from Cassie Gustafson.

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