Exit, Pursued By A Bear by E.k. JohnstonExit, Pursued By A Bear by E.k. Johnston

Exit, Pursued By A Bear

byE.k. Johnston

Hardcover | March 15, 2016

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From #1 New York Times bestselling author E.K. Johnston comes a brave and unforgettable story that will inspire readers to rethink how we treat survivors

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don't cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a small town. The team's summer training camp is Hermione's last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there's a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They're never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she's always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The rape wasn't the beginning of Hermione Winter's story and she's not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

"E.K. Johnston has a seemingly limitless range.... This is realistic fiction at it's best."—The Globe & Mail 

★ "Johnston’s clever—but never precious—update of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale is unflinching but not at all graphic in its treatment of sexual violence.... Middle and high school readers will pass this powerful, engaging story around and around."Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ "Fierce and gorgeously drawn, this is a rape story that doesn’t focus on victimhood."Booklist, starred review

 “A beautifully written portrait of a young woman facing the unthinkable, this is a must-buy for high school collections.”SLJstarred review

"Exit, Pursued by a Bear is an important new novel comparable with Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.”—VOYA.

"This story of a cheerleader rising up after a traumatic event will give you Veronica Mars-level feels that will stay with you long after you finish."Seventeen Magazine

A NPR Best Book of 2016
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016 
Booklist Best Book of 2016
A New York Public Library 2016 Top Ten Book for Teens
A Chicago Public Library Best Teen Fiction of 2016
Globe & Mail Best Book of 2016 
A CBC Best Book of 2016
Quill & Quire Best Book of 2016
A Bustle Top 30 YA Book of 2016
A Bookish Best Book of 2016
A Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year
A finalist for Audible’s Best Young Adult Audiobook of 2016
A 2017 Ontario Library Association White Pine Honor Book
E.K. Johnston is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several YA novels, including the L.A. Times Book Prize finalist The Story of Owen and Star Wars: Ahsoka. Her novel A Thousand Nights was shortlisted for The Governor General's Award. The New York Times called The Story of Owen “a clever first step in the career of a novelist ...
Title:Exit, Pursued By A BearFormat:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 8.5 × 5.75 × 0.88 inPublished:March 15, 2016Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1101994584

ISBN - 13:9781101994580


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerfull story This is a powerful and captivating story that deals with many real issues many teens face. Hermione goes through a horrible experience, but the book is never depressing and Hermione is strong and optimistic.
Date published: 2017-08-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting One of a number of modern retellings of Shakespeare plays -- this time A Winters' Tale. Interesting story, though I preferred The Gap of Time
Date published: 2017-08-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A highly relevant retelling of A Winter's Tale E.K. Johnston uses Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale as a frame for exploring how people react to violence. Empathetic and fiercely feminist in her depiction of Hermione and her best friend, Johnston deals with multiple issues - rape, abortion, sexual identity, leaving home for university, etc. - in a sensitive and realistic way.
Date published: 2017-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book I loved this book and definitely would recommend it. It's cool how it was based on one of Shakespeare's plays.
Date published: 2017-04-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not for me If I am COMPARING this to other young adult novels that deal with rape, yes, I definitely concur with the general population that this is a 4 or 5 star read. It is an important story and by showing a contrasting reaction made by the main character and her peers compared to other books of this genre, it evokes a different reader reaction as well. However, rating it as a story on its own, I was not a huge fan. You must admit, we've all read an averagely written book but that we gave a high rating because we CONNECTED to it, found something in it that speaks to us on a personal level. For me, this was an averagely written book that I felt so DISCONNECTED with due to personal experiences and feelings, that the rating got knocked down instead. So there is the rating I GIVE the book because of my own reading enjoyment, and the rating I WANT to give it because I in no way would want to deter anyone from reading this. I can easily see why the majority of people enjoy this book, but I do feel that have to stick with my honest rating, which is 2 stars....however, please don't take it as a lack of a recommendation. Do read this, you will likely appreciate it.
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I really liked this book Super different than what I expected- In a great way! It deals with the topic of rape through a protagonist who's ready to fight back and not let that take over her life. This book was really nice.
Date published: 2017-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful! I loved absolutely everything about this book. So many things. It is definitely not an easy subject matter to read about, but the way the author wrote this book was simply beautiful. I love that it was written in first person. I love that it was written in my home province of Ontario, and set within a few hours of where I live. I don't see that very often. I loved the main friendship between Hermione and Polly. I loved the side relationships, and the awesome support system that Hermione was given throughout the book. I love how Hermione's journey back to healing was written. I love how she was so honest with herself and everyone else. Mostly, I loved Polly. She was probably 90% of the reason that I cried 5 or 6 times today while I read through this book. Yes, that many, and that is a record for this reader who rarely sheds a tear. This is going on my list of all-time favourite friendships, I think. I'm making my 16 year old daughter read this next, and I told her I wish for her a friend like Polly.
Date published: 2017-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favourite Read of 2016 I loved this book! I stumbled upon it on goodreads about a month before it's release, and I swear I had a countdown on my phone up to the day it's release day. One thing I love about this book is the focus on strong friendships, and the emphasis on the amount of love you can have for your best friend no matter what.
Date published: 2017-03-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not what I expected This book was WAY better than I expected it to be. There's a lot of heart in this novel, and really digs into the topic of rape. So so good!
Date published: 2017-02-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh A different take on the high school rape narrative. But ultimately, the writing wasn't strong enough to really pull me into the characters' experience
Date published: 2017-01-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not a perfect book, but a really solid read on a tough subject This book grappled with a tough subject very well. That said, it is pretty light on character for anyone who isn't the main character and her best friend, and even in their cases, it feels...fast. It feels short--not in terms of its main arc, but more in terms of how quickly it whips through a school year from start to finish without dwelling in the moments of interaction that'd really give us more insight into Hermione's relationships with the people around her. BUT, although I would definitely recommend you also read Speak if you're looking for books/resources on this topic--this was a great book in terms of seeing people rally around and support the main character. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read for all ages This is an amazing book which, given the prevalence of sexual assault, should be read by all. I picked up this book over Christmas without realizing that it was teen fiction, but my 40 year old self loved it anyways. It's readable and heart-warming and oughtn't be too triggering.
Date published: 2017-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must Read I bought this book and finished it the day after! Its such an amazing book, you have to read it immediately. It gives a heart-warming insight into the life of a teen learning to cope with a recent tragic event.Yet sometimes, with the right people, things turn out okay.
Date published: 2017-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just go read this book right now. This book has been on my TBR for so long and I have no idea why it took me this long to read it. Honestly, I’m ashamed of myself. This book was amazing. More so, this book is so incredibly important. I even needed to wait a few days after reading it before even attempting to write this review in order to give my thoughts some time to process. Just please please please read it. -- What I Liked The friendships. Friendships in young adult fiction are so underrated. Nine times out of ten, I’d rather read about an exceptional friendship rather than a relationship. Hermione has the most amazing group of friends and it is amazing that she does. They were there for her through everything she went through and they were there to help whenever she needed it. This perfectly breaks the stereotypical trope of ruthless and catty cheerleaders. It was real. Everything that Hermione went through was completely realistic. Nothing was romanticized or made to seem perfect. She went through the typical aftermath of experiencing a traumatic event as someone in reality would. More importantly, it explored moments that maybe might not be the norm, like Hermione maybe not feeling the emotions that we have come to expect, or that she personally would expect, as the standard way to feel after said traumatic event happened to her. I loved that this novel explored all the different angles of what Hermione had to deal with. The discussion of extremely important topics. As you may have guessed by the way I’ve been talking about this novel, they are very heavy and dark themes that take place within this story. Exit, Pursed By A Bear deals with the topic of rape and the aftermath that a traumatic event like that would bring on. Hermione has to deal with the struggle of not remembering a single thing that happened to her. On top of that, she has to deal with the realization that she has become pregnant. Not only does this book discuss the important topic of rape, but also the controversial topic of abortions. I don’t think I have ever read about the idea of an abortion in YA literature before, and I’m glad that I finally have. As mentioned, this book contains some seriously important topics and it’s about time that they are being discussed within young adult novels. The importance. I mean, I’ve literally just preached about the importance of this novel within the last few paragraphs…but honestly, this novel is important! -- What I Didn’t Like Absolutely nothing. Read this novel right now. -- Clearly, I absolutely loved this book. I feel as though I’ve summed up my thoughts in the paragraphs above so I will leave you with one final statement. Read this book.
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lovely Exit, Pursued By A Bear deals with the suject matter of rape. The author did a beautiful job of writing a strong main character, who refused to play the victim after this horrible act was committeed against her. I would recommend this book to anyone.
Date published: 2016-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing An excellent resource when talking about sexual assault with young people. Would highly recommend to anyone.
Date published: 2016-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from perfect i think everyone should read this book because it the perfect example of what should happen when someone says they have been raped and how they should recover. well written and very intriguing and relatable.
Date published: 2016-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tough Issue but Great Book! Warning: This book deals with rape. In a VERY EXCELLENT WAY, but it is still there. So please be careful if you are triggered by this before reading this book and my review. Man, this was a tough read. It was a one chapter at a time one because I had to emotionally prepare myself for what could potentially come next. Because even though this was handled so so so perfectly, it was still so so so hard to read about. I loved how sensitive to the topic this was but also how honest it was as well. I loved that instead of spiraling out of control, Hermione took control of her life in a different way. I enjoyed seeing how she coped with the aftermath because everyone is different but that doesn't mean anyone's reactions are less valid than any other. And I think that even though she put on a brave face, she was still able to acknowledge that she was different -- and not by her choice. She was so strong and fierce, especially when given tough choices and having to make very adult decisions at 17. She never let this get in her way though, and instead of being victim or taking the labels that people gave her, Hermione made one of her own for herself. I loved Hermione's relationship with everyone around her, especially Polly. I loved their friendship and how they were both willing to go the extra mile for one another. I liked that this event was looked at through the lens of how it affected everyone in Hermione's life, but that she made a point of saying that she shouldn't have to hide her feelings just to make someone else feel better. And I loved that she didn't want to be the reason for someone to have some "character growth" to become a better person: she wanted people to treat her the same as everyone else. This is a must read for everyone, but especially teen girls. Mostly what EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR gives you is another Hermione that all young girls can relate to: smart, tough, and having to make hard decisions but doing them anyway and being the better person for it.
Date published: 2016-05-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not your typical book about sexual assault...amazing and empowering Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston is not your typical book about sexual assault…if there can be such a thing. What I mean is, this isn’t an after-school special kind of book. The characters don’t change dramatically, and there’s no real revelation moment. There’s no lesson in this book – and rightfully so since the main character, Hermione, is probably one of the strongest and most supported, self-aware teenagers I’ve ever encountered in YA. The novel starts with Hermione, co-captain of the Palermo Heights cheerleading team, going to summer cheer camp with her team. In Palermo Heights, the cheer team is THE sports team – they are the jocks everyone looks up to. So Hermione is super popular and pretty confident, but also fiercely devoted to her sport and to winning nationals in her senior year. During a cheer camp dance, Hermione is roofied and raped, then left in the lake nearby, unconscious. What makes this story so interesting is that after Hermione’s assualt, she can’t remember anything. She knew that something was wrong with her when she drank out of a cup slipped into her hands, but she can’t remember the perpetrator or the actual event at all. This is fascinating because it makes the assault seem almost divorced from her – at one point, she says, “[U]nless I think about it, or someone reminds me, I have trouble remember that I’m a victim at all.” And because of that loss of memory, Hermione is able to cope in a way that is so strong, honest, and fierce – but also complex. I can’t say that much more about the plot, but it’s one that I felt was so different and so honest about Hermione’s situation. E.K. Johnson has gone on the record as saying that this book is the most “fantasy” that she’s ever written: because Hermione gets the help and support she needs. For me, Hermione is not an everywoman, but she and her family, friends provide us a strong example of what to aspire to. Yes, there is some of the expected “asking for it” dialogue that is part of rape culture, but Hermione and her friends shut it down pretty quickly. This whole book, and how Hermione deals with her assault is truly amazing and empowering. If something this sh*tty happens to you, the best you can hope for is that your friends and family believe you and give you every support and belief in yourself that they can. BONUSES: Cheerleading as Sport: One of the things I loved about this book is that it takes cheerleaders seriously as athletes. In this book, the cheerleaders are the most popular people in school. People come out to see them cheer, not the basketball team play. And the book treats them like the athletes that they are – boys and girls who are real sizes, who eat real food, and who are tumble, do gymnastics, dance, and compete in some pretty serious competitions. As a former high school cheerleader, I really appreciated this. Cheering is HARD, yo. Shakespeare Retold: Believe it or not, this book is actually a retelling of The Winter’s Tale by Shakespeare – which features a women accused of adultery by her husband, and smuggled out of his kingdom. To me, BEARS!! (as E.K. Johnson calls it) is actually more of an homage than a retelling, especially since she skips acts three and four of the play, but nevertheless, the references are there if you’ve read or watched the play (and not just in the title!), and they are pretty great every time you get them. THE FINAL WORD There are books out there that deal with the feelings of inadequacy, shame and guilt that sometimes come with sexual assault (see above). There are books that make you feel like you’re in it, and make you question just how you would act in that situation. And then there are books like Exit, Pursued by a Bear, which choose, deliberately, to show a narrative that is different. What happened to Hermione is horrific – there’s no denying that – but unlike other books I’ve read on sexual assault, this is not the narrative of a victim. It’s not a narrative where we as readers empathize. Instead, Exit Pursued by a Bear asks us to make the choice not to sympathize, but to find ways to help, support and empower a survivor of sexual abuse. To create environments where he/she is never afraid to speak up, and to listen, learn, and respect. And to act to help a survivor – however he/she might need it.
Date published: 2016-04-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Review from Giselle at Book Nerd Canada I heard about this one from a couple of bloggers. They were raving about it. And then when I attended Indigo's Summer Preview event, one of the hosts raved about how much they enjoyed it too. It's not a fluff book at all because it deals with rape. The one thing I remember her saying was how much she liked how the teenage girl handled it. And after finishing it, I completely agreed. I know this is a highly unrealistic portrayal of one's version with rape. Having everyone around her and rallying with her just felt like it was from some TV movie. Because of it were real life, she would feel alone and be alone. And even though it was highly unrealistic, I still liked it. Granted, she had no memory of what happened so it was easier for her to bounce back into her life, but again not all situations are like this. It was still good to read about. She handled herself like an adult and that's something that should be noted. She was responsible, and healthy. Went to therapy, talked to her parents, talked to her friends. They were all there for her. I loved it! Nothing like this happens so easily in real life, it was refreshing to finally have a book where everything goes swimmingly for the character. The one thing I did note, was this was set in the town of Oakville, Ontario which is quite close to where I live. Having the location locked in a book was easy to imagine because I would know where they would be driving, because they did mention the airport once and I know that area too. The other thing about this book is that there's a lot about cheer-leading. It's a shame that it's not recognized as a sport, but they are still athletes. Tumbling and doing stunts isn't easy if you read about it through Hermione's eyes. An empowering and liberating read, "Exit, Pursued by a Bear" will have you cheering on the sidelines for Hermione Winters!
Date published: 2016-03-24

Read from the Book

Prologue I start running after school. Usually I get enough of a workout between practice and gym class that I don’t do extra, but this week I feel like I might explode if I stop moving. So I run. I run up and down the streets of Palermo, looking at the houses and coloured leaves on the trees and trying to hold on to the feeling that my body is my own and limitless. I run on the country roads, the gravel crunching under my feet—until the smell of pine makes me feel sick and I fly back to the safety of concrete sidewalks. I run and run, and when I finally fall asleep at night, I am tired enough that I don’t remember my dreams.One night, I pass the church my father and I attend whenever we’re both home on Sunday morning (so . . . about once a month, in a good month). I’ve passed the church every other night this week, but tonight the light in the office is on. Once upon a time, churches were always open, a sanctuary if you needed them. But the world changes, I guess. I haven’t given a single thought to the church since it happened, but when I see the light on, my feet slow down of their own accord, and I am knocking on the door before I know it. My fist sounds heavy against the wood. I am already having second thoughts, but it would be rude to run away. Just when I think maybe the light was left on accidentally, the door opens, and there is the minister, dressed in normal clothes, and looking a bit confused. When he sees me, his eyes widen for a moment before he makes his face neutral.“Hello, Hermione,” he says. I wonder if he remembers my name because he’s good at his job or because I’ve been on the news. He doesn’t ask me if I’m okay. Instead he waves me in, and shuts the door. Maybe it’s because I’m in a church. Maybe it’s because this is the man who baptized me. But I’m not afraid.“Hello, Reverend Rob,” I say, and the door latch echoes in the hallway. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?”“No, no.  Just practicing for Sunday. All this time, and I still get a bit of stage fright leading up to a sermon.”I follow Rob back into his office, which is warmly lit and full of old books. He waves me into one of the seats. I have just realized what it is I want to say, what I want to ask him.“Would you like water or tea?” he asks. “That’s all I have on hand.”“I’m fine, thank you,” I say, feeling profoundly awkward. I keep finding new ways to do that. “I don’t come here very often.”“That’s okay.” He’s sitting comfortably in his chair. People are never comfortable around me anymore. “I know how life goes. Schedules and the Church don’t always get along, so I do my best to operate an open door policy.”“Right,” I say. “I have two favours to ask. One’s a bit presumptuous. The other is . . . also presumptuous.”“Please. Feel free to ask.”“Thank you.” I pause for a moment to gather my thoughts.  I think of the looks I’ve been getting at the grocery store, and take a deep breath. “Please don’t ask people to pray for me.”

Editorial Reviews

"This story of a cheerleader rising up after a traumatic event will give you Veronica Mars-level feels that will stay with you long after you finish."—Seventeen Magazine"E.K. Johnston's latest gripping novel for young adults  . . . is both a well-plotted whodunit and a tightly woven examination of how we as a society respond to — and often judge — rape victims."—The Chicago Tribune"E.K. Johnston has a seemingly limitless range. This is realistic fiction at its best."—The Globe & Mail"A powerful rape survival story to make you believe in a better world."—The Rumpus"Soberly triumphant."—Toronto Star"Every girl who has ever been sexually assaulted or known someone who has, should read this book. So should every boy who has ever raped or known one who has. Every reader might try to be a friend like Polly. E.K. Johnston writes so well, showing a dark reality highlighted by compassion."—The News-GazetteA NPR Best Book of 2016A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016 A Booklist Best Book of 2016A New York Public Library 2016 Top Ten Book for TeensA Chicago Public Library Best Teen Fiction of 2016A Globe & Mail Best Book of 2016 A CBC Best Book of 2016A Quill & Quire Best Book of 2016A Bustle Top 30 YA Book of 2016A Bookish Best Book of 2016A finalist for Audible’s Best Young Adult Audiobook of 2016A Nerdy Book Club Best YA of 2016A Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the YearA 2017 Ontario Library Association White Pine Honor BookWinner of the 2017 Canadian Children's Book Centre's Amy Mathers Teen Book Award"Exit, Pursued by a Bear is both a tenderly written, heartfelt coming of age and an incisive, sensitive examination of trauma after an assault. Fresh, memorable, and thought-provoking."—Courtney Summers, author of All the Rage"A unflinching exploration of what it means to be a girl, what it means to be a friend, and what it means to be a survivor. A determined, transformative book that every teen girl should read." —Tess Sharpe, author of Far From You“Gripping and devastating.” —Anne Ursu, author of The Real Boy."Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a must-read. Bracing, intimate, tense, and delightful."—Martha Brockenbrough, author of The Game of Love and Death.“Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a story about a girl. A cautionary tale about someone who didn't want to be a cautionary tale. An important book for girls. For boys. For adults. For mothers and fathers and daughters and sons and girlfriends and boyfriends. An important book without being an 'Issue Book.' And I loved it.” —New York Times bestselling author Jessica Day George"I WAS NOT WARNED THAT I WOULD CRY THIS MUCH."—New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hartman★ "Johnston’s clever—but never precious—update of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale is unflinching but not at all graphic in its treatment of sexual violence.... Middle and high school readers will pass this powerful, engaging story around and around."—Kirkus Reviews, starred.★ "Fierce and gorgeously drawn, this is a rape story that doesn’t focus on victimhood."—Booklist, starred.★ “A beautifully written portrait of a young woman facing the unthinkable, this is a must-buy for high school collections.”—SLJ, starred.★ "While Hermione is a victim, Johnson never portrays her as victimized, instead focusing on how Hermione reasserts control over her life with help from family, friends, and therapy, using her own decisions to push back against something in which she had no such choice." —PW, starred.★ "The reader is kept engaged, and – like Hermione – hopeful, even in the darkest moments. [...] Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a story of triumph, not just survival."—Quill & Quire, starred.★ "Johnston creates a strong female main character that will not be afraid, and refuses to be a cautionary tale or a pariah.” —SLC, starred "Exit, Pursued by a Bear is an important new novel comparable with Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.”—VOYA."Should a young reader ever need guidance following an assault, she could do much worse than to emulate Hermione Winters."—Bookpage, Top Pick "A raw, powerful story that’ll stay with you long after it’s over.”—Buzzfeed"Crisp, engaging writing, strong characterization and a steady hand distinguish this thought-provoking novel about coping and community."—Shelf Awareness"While assault survivors, both in fact and in fiction, often find their lives narrowed to this one designation, Johnston refuses to flatten her heroine. Instead, she insists that Hermione's joy in being thrown into the air during cheer routines, and the strength of her best friendship with co-captain Polly are just as vital to our understanding of her as the facts of her assault."—Margaret H. Willison, NPR book critic"I have not been so deliciously surprised by a book in a long time."—Grace Wright, Parnassus Books"This is a vital book about the importance of creating a strong system of support for victims of assault." —BookishA 2017 Ontario Library Association White Pine Finalist