High School


Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
on March 15th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, High School, Realistic Fiction, Retellings, Sport
Pages: 248


Reaction Upon Reading: I wanted more justice for Hermione!

“And if someone does figure it out and starts a rumour, we’ll just deal with it,” Polly says. “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, and all that crap.”
“Do you ever dream of the day when your life can no longer be adequately summarized by Kelly Clarkson songs?” I ask.
“All the time,” Polly says.”


“I love you,” Polly says suddenly when I’m almost to the door.

“I know,” I say.

Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.

But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined:

Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.

Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.

“I didn’t used to overthink my choices quite so much. Then someone made what I’ve always been told is a very important choice for me, and now I tend to overthink everything else.”

Once again I have picked up another book without knowing what it is about. I adore this cover and the overall ratings tell me it is going to be worth it.

I like books with hard hitting themes, that leave me feeling something. I hope this is going to be that book. I want to be left scarred and destroyed.

“There’s a moment when I know that I should scream. But screaming would be hard. And blackness would be easy. Black picks me.”


  • This book did not glamorize the rapist
    • In fact this wasn’t even about the rapist at all…thank goodness!
    • We didn’t need to know about him. 
  • It was a different book troupe for ‘a victim surviving a sexual assault’.
    • I have never read a book that showed the thoughts and feelings of someone who genuinely could not remember being sexually assaulted, but has to live with the knowledge that this did occur.
    • She didn’t fall apart.
    • She didn’t go off the rails.
    • She is shown to be strong, brave and resilient.
    • Hermione is given the power!
  • There was a team of support for Hermione
    • She didn’t suffer alone
  • I kept trying to guess who the ‘boy’ was
    • I had all kinds of crazy theories going 
    • It wasn’t guessing out of morbid curiousity it was I cared about Hermione and needed her to get her justice. 
  • I am glad we got an answer…even though I wanted and needed more
    • Could you get a more bad ass best friend?!? 
    • Everyone needs a Polly in their life…Who would like to be mine? 
  • The way the characters in the book shut down the slut-shaming while still showing readers the sad reality victims face.
  • I am also sooooo insanely glad this book wasn’t a anti-abortion book. There was no judgement or bias of her choices interwoven in the text.
    • I hate it when authors write obstacles that their characters have to overcome and then make you feel like they made they wrong choice. I sit their thinking “But you made them do this, if you don’t like their choice, don’t bloody write it”. 
  • This book shows the way a sexual assault affects more than just the victim
    • We see the repercussions of this attack on Hermione, her family, her friends, her cheer squad, her school and her wider community 


  • I can’t deal with the fact that the main characters name is Hermione.
    • The whole time I was just picturing Hermione Granger.
  • Where is Hermione’s justice?
    • I needed more.
  • So many unanswered questions!

“Maybe he is starting to understand. I don’t really care, though. I do not want to be anyone’s model for becoming a better person.”

Reactions, Questions and Ramblings:

  • Once again I am reading a book without reading the synopsis first
  • Is she sick?
  • Why doesn’t she want people to pray for her?
  • What…You can’t use the name Hermione – How can I be expected to take this book seriously?
  • Polly (Hermione’s sarcastic bestie) makes me think of Peyton from One Tree Hill
  • The name of this book is intriguing
    • I have since discovered it is a retelling – now I need to find what it is a retelling of and whether the original is worth reading. 
  • Do we trust Leo?
  • I get the feeling that Hermione doesn’t even like him all that much…weird
  • I feel like she is going to get pregnant, after making the speech that this is the year of change.
  • Leo is possessive in a way that makes my skin crawl.
  • I am glad the rape was glossed over with partial flashbacks. I didn’t want to gory details, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it.
    • I am surprised she has no recognition of the guy leading her away. She seemed to be somewhat coherent at that stage, still. But then I don’t know anything about roofies.
  • Why can’t he look at her after the rape? Is he guilty. Why does he glower and appear angry? Nothing happened to him! 
  • I sadly want her to be pregnant so they can catch the culprit.
  • Her parents are amazing. They aren’t pushy on her healing, they make her laugh and are so supportive. I like that they don’t smother her.
  • Hermione’s superheroes: Polly, Mallory, Mum, Dad, Coach, Reverend Rob.
  • I’m shocked she had an abortion, I thought for sure she was going to keep it. 
  • Polly is my favourite character – she is everything!
  • Amy and Polly – so cute! There sleepover was adorable
  • I almost thought we weren’t getting justice and that we would have to live with it because she was for the most part okay. Now we know she will get justice…well we hope she will.
  • She reacted so calmly when she saw ‘him’.
  • Leo changes which is nice – I had him pegged for the bad guy pretty much the entire book. He is still a douche though.

“If you think I’m going to apologize for being drugged and raped, you have another thing coming.”

Overall Thoughts:

I don’t have strong feelings about this book. I didn’t love it, but I also didn’t hate it. It is one of those ones that just cruises along being okay. For a book with such deep themes I expected it to be more hard hitting. I wanted to feel more and be more affected by the events that transpired.

As I was reading I definitely needed to know who had committed this atrocious crime, but I soon realized that we may never find out. Hermione is coping without knowing and is slowly unfolding the pieces of her ‘blackout’. I was not okay with this! I am well aware that it is a very real and sad reality for so many woman who are victims of sexual assault, but I need closure and some sense of gratification that their will be repercussions for this ‘boy’.

It just seemed like it was sitting in ‘we don’t know’, ‘oh, we may never know’, ‘now some things are coming back’ and then all of a sudden we just sped through the ending and left everything up in the air. If there had been some justice or the revelation was more profound, then I probably would have adored this book.


What did you think of this book?

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Rating Report
Overall: four-stars