I’ve talked a bit about All The Rage by Courtney Summers here prior to its release. Now that it’s out, we’re taking part in the blog tour for the book — because Courtney is a friend, I won’t review the book, but I wanted to talk about why it’s one you need to read and talk a bit about the quote above.
One of the big images throughout the book is that of red lipstick and red nail polish. They’re the main character Romy’s armor; they’re a way of her having a ritual and control in a world where
There’s a moment when the pair of school mannequins, which are there for school spirit, become a means for Romy’s peers to bully her. In one scene, the Jane mannequin has her lips colored in red, so there’s no doubt she’s being used as a means to mocking Romy. When Romy sees this — and she anticipates a certain level of being made fun of and ridiculed because she’s the girl who dared speak up about the school’s golden boy who raped her — she tries to scrape off the color.
Romy’s former best friend Penny watches this happen, and it’s when Romy catches her watching on, she feels not only betrayed, but she feels a thousand knives of betrayal. She decides then and there she can’t handle being at school any longer, so she leaves and goes home.
The quote above, “It all feels too close,” is when she gets home and she can’t make up her mind about what to do. Everything claws at her at once: wanting to hide away in her room — one that doesn’t feel like hers yet, since she and her mother have just moved into a place with Todd, her mother’s romantic other — and wanting to flee and put space between her and the world she inhabits. Here’s the entire passage:
of me that wants to go inside and sleep. There’s the part of
me that wants space, distance, because it all feels too close.
The part of me that wants to go is louder.
This may feel small, but it’s a huge piece throughout the book and ultimately, swings back to the conclusion of the book, too. What Romy feels is this constant push and pull, but it’s the desire to go — to step outside her own situation and her own skin and her own place of hiding — that seems to be louder.
The biggest theme running through Summers’s book is the importance of believing girls. By believing them, we let them speak their truths. We hear their stories, however raw and painful they may be. And the more we hear them, the more we let their voices stand. The more we then, in turn, believe their voices even more.
To celebrate the release of All The Rage, Courtney created a hashtag campaign aimed at offering insight, advice, and voice to girls everywhere in #ToTheGirls. For those who may have missed it as it trended worldwide, there have been nice write ups in the New York Times, BlogHer, the Huffington Post, MTV, and a shout out on The Today Show. This is well-worth sharing with teenagers, as the advice shared here is powerful, moving, and could be life-changing. I ended up dropping off the spare ARC I had of the book into the local Little Free Library, which is located between the middle school and high school, with a note about the hash tag, hoping a girl sees it, reads it, and is moved by it.
This month, I had the honor and privilege of having Courtney Summers in conversation with the legendary Laurie Halse Anderson on the topics of feminism, sexual violence, and the importance of girls’ stories. Please read this — both women are phenomenally passionate, well-spoken, and what they have to say can, and will, change lives.
With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.
I’ll select a winner on or around May 5.