I think I speak for most of us bookworms when I say that we read to escape our mundane lives: We want to discover new worlds, travel to farwaway countries and “hang out” with people whose lives seem more interesting than ours. But sometimes it’s necessary to bring real life problems into a book to raise awereness. And this is what Patty Blount did with The Way It Hurts.
The most important thing in Elijah’s life is music and his hard-rock band “Ride Out”. He will do just about anything to get their band the big break-through. This is why he would prefer practicing with them instead of sitting in an auditorium on a Friday night and listening to a musical. Then he hears the voice of the lead: Kristen. She lives and breathes stage performances, just like her grandmother. She wants nothing more than to study at one of the best conservatories in the country and pushes herself to get better every day.
A picture taken on that Friday night and an out-of-context comment go viral. Suddenly, Elijah and Kristen are in a new spotlight as the online backlash spins out of control. And the consequences are bigger than they both could have ever imagined because these threats don’t stay online…they follow them into real life.
I was really looking forward to this novel. The blurb promised a bit of music but most of importantly a storyline that too many people are confronted with on a daily basis: online bullying, haressment, slut-shaming. I know this is a sensitive subject matter for many of us but it is important to acknowledge and talk about it.
The result I got, however, was different than I expected. As you read in the blurb, Elijah and Kristen both love music and love to perform on stage. We see them practice, perform and practice a little more. We learn a lot about music in general: sounds, lyrics, musical intstruments etc. It was interesting, no doubt, but the focus of this story was too much on the music and less on the actual topic of online-bullying.
Don’t get me wrong, the online-bullying part was there throughout the whole story. The chapters, alternating between Kristen’s and Elijah’s POV, started off with their respective social media accounts and consisted of stats, status updates, tweets and retweets. The characters talked about those online comments but unfortunately those conversations were not enough in my opinion. Instead of acting on it, they either fueled up the rumors or turned their conversations to music related topics. For over half the book barely nothing happened. Sure, there was bickering and also sexist and misogynic comments but I was missing the drama that the blurb promised. Only at 68% did something happen, when the promised threats followed them into real life. I wished the drama would have happened earlier in the story.
The just mentioned social media accounts that appeared in the beginning of every chapter was a nice feature in this novel. I really enjoyed keeping track of their accounts and seeing the change in their growing follower base. The added tweets and retweets, that were shocking to read, were a little confusing at first. It seemed that the characters found out about the tweets at the same time the reader did. But after a few chapters I noticed that those were not part of the actual story, it was rather for the reader only. The characters only found out about those tweets in the course of the chapter, which is why a few of those comments in the beginning were repeated in the story, and that made it confusing to me.
As an author, Patty Blount made it her mission to write her novels about realistic issues. Although The Way It Hurts was not what I hoped for, it is still an important book and worth the read.
Be sure to check out The Way It Hurts when it releases on August 1st!
Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for providing 5171 Miles Book Blog a copy to review for our readers!