The Choice by Allison J. Kennedy
The thing about this book is, the thing it really does amazingly well is, neutrality. In a book confronting serious and difficult topics, rape abortion, reporting sexual assaults, among others, neutrality from a narrative perspective is as necessary as it is hard to achieve. While characters clearly have opinions (religious and otherwise) about these topics, opinions that are strong and many-faceted, the fact that as a reader I never felt preached at or manipulated into valuing any one opinion above others by the narrative is fantastic. This narrative decision (not to mention its exquisite execution) allowed me to feel and question The Choice internally. There was room for me, as a reader, to decide for myself how I felt about the sequence of events, the characters, the choice(s) made. This crafting of space for the reader is finely wrought, and, to my mind, a crucial part of why this story is so captivating and so compelling. Had it demonstrated a clear stance on the issues, had it attempted to sway, cajole, lure, or lecture me, the alienation would have been absolute, immediate, and irreversible.
Of course there is more than just this narrative choice that lends itself to enjoyment of this book. The characters, and the relationships between the characters, have dimension and realism, particularly in the flaws that are revealed in the individuals as the story moves along. In addition to the crafted neutrality, the writing is crisp, well-paced, and often quite lyrical, making for a very comfortable and engaging read. This book would make an excellent required reading text for middle and high school age kids learning about consent, though it is a wonderful read for all.
In short I heartily recommend this book!
Published by Allison J. Kennedy LLC July 2016