“Sex and Violence” by Carrie Mesrobian

I know the author, so I’m biased, but I really did both like and admire Carrie Mesrobian’s first novel, Sex and Violence.

Evan is 17 and something of a pick-up artist as he moves around the country with his professor dad. At a boarding school in the south, he starts fooling around with a girl on the sly. When some of the guys find out about it, they beat him badly, making him question his former coping methods.

… I believe strongly in condoms. They avert babies and disease. They make you seem responsible, not slutty. They make the girl relax too, because you’re taking care of the risky part. Like you’re a professional. Roll it on, squeeze the tip, turn back to her, ready, set go. Like I’d just done a little disappearing act on myself and became something confident and wonderful. You can’t see through my latex disguise! You will love this so let’s get down! You don’t want to know how many times this worked in my favor.

God I feel like a fucking asshole sometimes. All the time, really.

His dad moves them both up to a lakeside community in Minnesota, and Evan has to figure out something new: how to make friends.

The book centers on Evan’s trauma, but includes many other aspects like work, figuring out his father, family history, and living in a small community. Together, these make for a satisfyingly complex read as Evan tries to get his act together. The book itself is also a lovely object, a good size for reading, with the cover image of water repeated on certain pages inside, as is a tiled pattern, a reference to Evan’s first attack.

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