The Opposite of Innocent — Sonya Sones

The Opposite of Innocent by Sonya Sones

TITLE: The Opposite of Innocent
AUTHOR: Sonya Sones
RELEASES: September 4th, 2018; HarperTeen
GENRE: Contemporary/Poetry
AGE RANGE: YA
ACQUIRED: ARC

SYNOPSIS: Lily has been crushing on Luke, a friend of her parents’, ever since she can remember. He’s been away for two endless years, but he’s finally returning today. Lily was only twelve when he left. But now, at fourteen, she feels transformed. She can’t wait to see how Luke will react when he sees the new her. And when her mother tells her that Luke will be staying with them for a while, in the bedroom right next to hers, her heart nearly stops.

Having Luke back is better than Lily could have ever dreamed. His lingering looks set Lily on fire. Is she just imagining them? But then, when they’re alone, he kisses her. Then he kisses her again. At first, the secrecy and danger of their relationship thrills Lily. But soon Luke begins to expect, then demand much more than kissing. He won’t stop pressuring her to do things she doesn’t want to do. Lily wishes she had never flirted with Luke. She feels imprisoned in a situation that’s all her fault. How will she escape?

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In The Opposite of Innocent, we follow a story that’s painfully familiar for a lot of people: a girl being groomed by a sexual predator, and that grooming turning into a fully-blown abusive relationship. What sets this book apart, however, is both the fact that it’s a story told in prose, and the fact that our narrator is so incredibly young and naïve; she genuinely has no clue what’s coming until it’s too late.

I’ve always been in love with Luke. For as far back as I can remember.

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Right from the beginning, we’re shown these memories of Lily’s, where she tells us how she’s always been in love with Luke, and how her entire life, he’s promised to wait for her. It’s the sort of scenario that feels uncomfortable anyways, but when you know what the book is about, watching everything piece together is like sitting in traffic and watching the distracted driver behind you wait too long to hit the brakes; you know what’s coming before they do, and sometimes, all you can do is grit your teeth and brace for impact.

He was my best friend, my hero, and my soul mate all rolled into one.

The most mortifying part of this tale is how young Lily is—and how naïve her narrative feels. There’s some inconsistency when she’s with her friends; sometimes, they’re all jokes and games, jumping on beds and goofing off, while other times, they’re talking about “going all the way” and Lily’s friends are tremendously concerned about this “older boyfriend” she alludes to. The biggest reason I gave this 3 stars, in fact, was simply because Lily felt very self-contradicting to me at times.

I don’t understand how a person can feel so awesome and so awful at the exact same time.

While the book does follow the standard formula for this plot—girl is groomed, girl is abused, girl begins to realize that she deserves more than this—it’s still heartbreaking to watch her grow up right before our eyes as she begins to miss the comforting ease she feels with boys her own age, rather than the man fifteen years older than her. I wish that Lily more openly understood the fact that she’s been groomed for this moment, because I think, with that small addition, this could become a great cautionary tale for young girls who might recognize behaviors in men in their own lives and realize what those motives truly are.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to HarperTeen for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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Just a 25-year-old trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

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