Ever Since

Penguin/Rocky Pond. May 2023. 288p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593616178.
Gr 10 Up–Seventeen-year-old Virginia doesn’t feel safe in her home. Her parents are always fighting, and she lives in fear that He may be there, so she stays away as much as possible. She knows she doesn’t always make the best choices, spending her time partying, drinking, and having risky sex. She just needs a close group of friends. But when her closest friend, Poppy, suddenly moves away without warning, Virginia starts spending more time with Poppy’s boyfriend, Rumi, and starts to fall for him. She becomes close to Rumi’s younger sister, Lyra, and soon realizes that Lyra is being groomed for abuse by the same person who once abused her. Virginia has spent so much time hiding her secret from everyone, but she does not want Lyra to become His next victim. Virginia needs to decide what to do and who to trust to not only save Lyra but to save herself. The content may trigger some readers, but realistically presents the aftermath of childhood sexual assault and a community serial abuser.
VERDICT A powerful story of childhood trauma and what it means to confront sexual assault, Bruzas’s debut novel addresses the complexities of survival and the importance of a strong circle of support.

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