Gagging For It By Ellis Richmond
A Coming of Age YA Novel published by Oata Publishing (03/07/21)
In a small town in the 1980s Claire is seduced by her older cousin’s husband. Thinking that a relationship with Tony will be good for her, Claire does everything he says and keeps their relationship a secret. After Claire starts dating a boy her age from school, she struggles to reconcile the two different relationships. Tony won’t take no for an answer and he loves her, doesn’t he?
Grooming, Teenager, 1980s, Troubled Home, Affair, Sexual Relationship, Sex, Abus, Injury, Friendship, Trapped, Manipulation, Secrets, Bullying, Coercion, Rape
Claire is young. So very young. This book will punch you in the gut because this story is very realistic. This story is scary and at times hard to read. In the 1980s where the novel is set, it is much more likely for a story about Claire to happen. She is somewhat isolated. The influence of the world is narrow. Claire knows what she is surrounded by and the author very cleverly sets the novel in the poorer end of a small town. Claire’s home environment, her neighborhood, and her school are so well described that I can visualize her upbringing and see her story so clearly. I can understand Claire and her thought process and her confusion and changing perspective as she grows throughout this book. I feel so much for Claire and the situation that Tony has pushed her into.
The author creates so much empathy for Claire in the eyes of the reader. Claire may not be a model teenager but she is an amazing person. She is always willing to help with her younger siblings and the kids at the gym. She is hardworking and enjoys the challenge of an early morning newspaper route up hills so steep she can’t always bike them. She has such strong drive and motivation. She isn’t lazy or selfish. And yet she gets pulled into this terrible situation with Tony. I feel like the author manipulated me at times! I know what Tony did was very, very wrong and yet the way he groomed Claire from the very beginning made so much sense. If I was Claire, I might have made the same choices she did.
I’m so glad that the author included Frank and Luke as examples of good men and positive role models in Claire’s life. Just in case the reader gets confused by Tony, there are these two shining examples of how men should be acting toward and around Claire and other kids. Because of Tony though, I kept waiting for Frank or Luke to do something wrong. The author primed me not to trust anyone in the book, that anyone could have ulterior motives.
I absolutely loved the easy camaraderie between Charly, Maddie, and Claire as well as the realistic and open conversations between the three girls.
My one complaint about this novel was the abrupt ending that wasn’t satisfying to me as a reader. This book felt like part one of a two-part book and I would have preferred a clear and gratifying ending. I felt like Claire was in the middle of her transformation, that she was only partway through growing as a character when this story ended.
This book will appeal to readers who like clever and realistic portrayals of hard-to-read and emotional subjects.
This novel was published by Oata Publishing on 03/07/2021 and is available on Amazon here.
TL;DR Star Rating: 3.50
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