Saturday, March 25, 2017

It Happens All the Time

It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany
Atria Books: 3/28/17
eBook review copy; 320 pages
ISBN-13: 9781476704456

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 them.

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.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Atria Books.

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