About the book:
Sixteen-year-old Haley's life is about to change. With divorced parents, she's allowed to choose who to live with. Tired of Mom’s restrictions (like no dating), she picks laid-back Dad, although that means she'll have to go to a new school. But even that situation starts to look up when hottie Harris Stephens flirts with her. And when he asks her out, Haley ecstatically accepts. Chalking up a mysterious warning about Harris to jealousy, Haley continues seeing him. But infatuation turns to devastation when Harris does something totally unexpected. Humiliation and peer pressure keep Haley from disclosing what happened, and with no one to talk to, her torturous secret is overwhelming.
I couldn't pull myself away from this story until I finished the book. Yeah, I read it straight through. I love this entire "Secrets" series by NavPress's TH1NK imprint. And frankly, out of all of the Melody Carlson YA books that I've read so far, I like this one the best. I know I also said that about Shattered, and Never Been Kissed so far this year, and about several of the author's YA books last year, but they were all good for different reasons. Damaged was a realistic and empowering novel for victims, and it gives readers a sense of hope and healing at its conclusion. That is an invaluable benefit of reading fiction, and from reading this book in particular. The potential positive impact on youth and even their parents, is enormous. We need more books like this for teens.
The bottom line is this book really touched my heart. Maybe because it felt so real-life to me. The character's thoughts weren't toned down to fit what Christians think their response should be. The author pulls you deeper and deeper into the mindset of Haley and how she sees the world. That invincible, "I'm different" mindset that is so common with girls today was perfectly illustrated here. I don't think there can ever be enough books about this subject for teens.
So many girls get pulled into situations like this without realizing it. With the naivete that many young girls have regarding a sweet talking teen boy's intentions, this could be eye opening for them. If nothing else, maybe they'll be less likely to put themselves in a situation where they can be vulnerable like Haley had done unwittingly. I have to say I was proud of her for speaking up even though she was terrified. Because it's about doing the right thing and not just protecting the secret, which enables the perpetrator to continue hurting others.
Honestly, the story brought back some not-so-pleasant memories of things that happened when I was a teen. The author portrayed those feelings, emotions, etc. spot on. Why do girls tend not to tell anyone about things like date rape? If we're honest with ourselves, ladies, we all think we would tell BEFORE it happens to us. But when it happens, most of the time we don't tell anyone. We just turn on ourselves (hence all the drugs, cutting, anorexia, promiscuity, etc. that many girls immerse themselves in to block out the pain.) That said, this book would be a great tool to help girls who have experienced date rape. They will see that it was not their fault, and that they were manipulated, and even targeted, if you will. That message will help a lot of young women to heal.
Damaged was published by NavPress TH1NK and released in Oct. 2011.