TW: discussion of rape
Blurb: Ellie Frias has never wanted to be popular, she just wants to blend in, to be accepted. But then Caleb Breward tells her she’s beautiful and makes her believe it. Ellie loves Caleb, but sometimes she’s not sure she likes him – the possessive way he touches her, his harsh tone, how he ignores her one minute and can’t get enough the next. And one black night, she discovers the monster her boyfriend really is. Ellie wasn’t the first girl Caleb raped. But she was the first he murdered. Now, trapped, she witnesses him shatter the lives of other girls. Powerless and alone, Ellie tries to keep hold of happier memories, always waiting – hoping – that someone will find her.
Title: I Stop Somewhere
Author: T E Carter
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Genre: Fiction, YA, Contemporary
All Ellie wanted was to belong, to be accepted and maybe to feel beautiful. Caleb brought her all that and she got swept up in the rush of finally feeling good enough. But Caleb hides a much darker side that only comes out in the basement of an abandoned house, in the company of his older brother, Noah. A basement where Ellie finally saw who her boyfriend really was. Except she didn’t live long enough to tell anyone.
This book was given to me (with a bunch of others) by a colleague who was having a clear out and thought I’d like some free books – who doesn’t? I must have briefly glanced at the blurb at the time but if you’d asked me what it was about I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. It’s sat on my shelves for probably about two years-ish so when I finally picked it up, I finished it in a matter of hours. The story, pretty obviously from it’s synopsis, does deal with rape and sexual assault so if that’s something you find triggering, it’s probably best to sit this one out. While the descriptions aren’t incredibly graphic, there’s enough detail to make you uncomfortable. However, I would say that the existence of these stories in YA feels important as it can help to spark conversations about consent and helps to remind victims of sexual assault, even if they’re young, that they’re not alone.
I honestly don’t know where to start with this. This book touched every sore spot that I have (from personal experience or just general empathy) – feeling a bit invisible at fifteen, trusting someone that you shouldn’t, being used, dying and regretting things and also the loss of a tender father/daughter relationship. I cried reading this story and thought about it for a long time afterwards. I think the best way to give you an insight is to say that it’s similar to The Lovely Bones meets Holly Bourne’s The Places I’ve Cried in Public. We see the events play out from Ellie’s point of view, after her death as she’s trapped in some sort of limbo. I haven’t really read a book like that before which was interesting as much as it was frustrating. Seeing Ellie recount her story, waiting for someone to figure out what happened to her while she’s standing right beside them is heart breaking. We see a lot of the story in flashbacks as Ellie tells her story from beyond the grave which keeps the pace moving really well and, as she’s a ghost, we get an uninhibited view of what’s going on in the town as she can flit about unseen. It’s also a more abstract and thought provoking way to approach a contemporary setting as Ellie often talks about the great parts of life and what she misses most (and it’s not just shrugged off as being clothes and a phone).
One thing that I really appreciated about Ellie was that she felt real. She most definitely wasn’t a one sided character, she had flaws, acted out and made silly mistakes but what fifteen year old doesn’t? I also loved her relationship with her dad – again, it was sweet and tender but full of the teenage embarrassment where we push away our parents for not being cool or exciting enough. As someone who’s lost her dad, this really got to me, especially seeing her father’s reactions later on in the story. The characters were what really made this story stand out for me. They’re all so three dimensional, even Caleb and Gina Lynn, that you can’t help but be drawn in. I was rooting for Ellie, I was condemning Caleb and Noah, I ached for those girls.
As for what I disliked, and there’s a spoiler here, it had to be that Noah and Caleb get away with all of the sexual assaults and rapes that they’ve committed. Now, I know that this happens all the time (Brock Turner springs to mind immediately) but it still got to me. I so badly wanted justice, even if it was fictional, for those girls, especially for little Hannah who must have only been twelve or thirteen at the time. I so badly wanted that moment of victory for them so I guess that’s my only gripe here. However, that does really go to show just how much the story pulled me in and made me feel for the characters – I’d say that’s a trademark of a show stopping book.
This book absolutely broke my heart – for Ellie who didn’t deserve her end, for her father who tried so hard and for the other girls who were denied their justice. My heart breaks all over again knowing that events like these aren’t confined to works of fiction. As a society we’re moving in the right direction with the Me Too movement and talking more openly about our experiences but until these sorts of things stop all together, we’ve got a long way to go.
I’m including a link here for anyone in the UK who has experienced sexual assault and needs someone to talk to. Please know you are never alone. To quote the dedication in this book:
To the girls who survive
To the girls who are found too late
To the girls who are never found
You are beautiful
You are loved
You are believed
Recommend?: Yes, if you’re able to deal with the subject matter
Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!
You can always find me over on Twitter if you’d like to discuss this book (or any others that I’ve featured) in more detail 😌