It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany
Atria Books: 3/28/17
eBook review copy; 320 pages
It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany is a highly
recommended examination of a friendship changed by sexual expectations.
Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were
teenagers. She was there for him when his macho father humiliates
and degrades him. He was there for her when her eating disorder
leads to a heart attack. Amber made it clear to Tyler during high
school that she wasn't interested in a romantic relationship with
him. Now Amber has returned home for the summer. She's just
graduated from college and is engaged. She strictly watches her
eating, but she's eating. Tyler is working as an EMT. He still has
feelings for Amber and has hoped that someday she'd reciprocate
Tyler and Amber rekindle their friendship. Amber's fiancé is miles
away and she's working before moving to meet him in the Fall. While
Amber still wants the friendship to remain platonic, she's confused
about her engagement. Tyler still desires more than a friendship.
The two begin to see each other a lot and the flirtation between the
two increases. A drunken party on the fourth of July, blatant sexual
flirting, and a kiss lead to a sexual encounter. Amber feels it was
rape while Tyler sees it as his dreams fulfilled.
The narrative alternates between the point of view of Amber and
Tyler. Since the novel opens with Amber kidnapping Tyler at gun
point, you know right away a rape is going to happen. When it does,
well, the line is a little blurry since "No!" was never used, but "Wait"
was. I can concede that it was rape because it was unwanted. However
that doesn't make Amber's later crime okay. You'll have to read the
book, but it didn't sit well with me that it was alright to lie about
Amber's actions, but Tyler had to be held accountable for his actions.
Hmmmm... They were both guilty of acts of violence. And the eating
disorder thrown in for good measure also muddied the plot.
This is a well-written novel that is imminently readable with a plot
that moves along quickly. Amber and Tyler are well-developed characters,
even though the plot does get in the way of them being actually
likeable. Additionally Amber's eating disorder lessens the emotional
impact of the assault, especially after we learn that Tyler is the one
who saved her when she had the heart attack. He's wanted a relationship
for years, she knew it, and yet she still led him on sexually. I'm not
letting him off the hook either. When she said wait he should have
stopped. Even though she was drunk and coming on to him, he could have
told her to stop it because she was engaged.
This could be a good choice for a book club because the discussion would undoubtedly be lively.
My review copy was courtesy of Atria Books.