Wednesday, August 24, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Pain Eater by Beth Goobie

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is September 13, 2016.

She hadn’t told anyone. Not a single soul. Not one word about that night and what had been done to her had ever passed Maddy Malone’s lips. She’d thought about it at first - had been desperate, even frantic, to tell. But then had come the shame, and the intimidation from the boys who raped her - and the one who held her down. Now it’s the beginning of a new school year and Maddy is hoping that she can continue to hide, making herself as quiet and small as possible. She is consumed with keeping the memories at bay, forcing them down through small cuts and the burn from the end of a cigarette. But when her English class is given the assignment of writing a collaborative novel about a fifteen-year-old girl, The Pain Eater, fact and fiction begin to meet up. When the boys spread rumors about Maddy, she realizes that continuing to hide the truth will only give them more control, and she slowly gains the courage to confront them.

I am going to be the black sheep here. Everyone else seemed to love this book and I'm sorry, but I just didn't.

Maddy is gang raped one night after a school play. Five boys are involved; three boys rape her, one holds her down and one watches from afar. For a book about a girl who is raped, I just didn't feel much in terms of emotion. Maybe the fact that I have read so many books on the subject has ruined me. But I just found it dry. When Maddy was talking about how she had changed, I wish the author had showed me instead of told me. The author kind of wrote a couple of paragraphs about symptoms that a lot of rape victims have and I would have rather Maddy experience those things directly, if that makes any sense. Now Maddy has amazing parents that are very loving and very worried about her because they can tell that something is wrong. I didn't like her sister though. Her sister has once conversation with Maddy about how worried she is and when Maddy doesn't tell her what's wrong, she gets mad and stops speaking to her. Really? So your sister (whom you supposedly love and are supposedly so worried about) is going through something and because she doesn't tell you right away, you decide to pull away and stop talking to her? That annoyed me so much. 

Here's something else that annoyed me: Maddy's view on therapists. Maybe it's my counseling background, but I saw red. Her parents suggested a therapist and Maddy acted like therapy was only for crazy people who were seeing things and hallucinating and acting like zombies. I get why she didn't want to go. She didn't want the therapist to try and get the story out of her. But for Maddy to completely rail against therapy like that made me so mad. Oh and she never changed her opinion on that and never went to therapy. Fabulous. 

I didn't really understand the boys who raped her. I mean, I don't generally get rapists anyway. But these guys were wearing masks the night of the rape and have no idea if she can identify them or not, but they start to bully her and basically reveal themselves SEVEN months later. Really? If they were going to do that, why didn't they do that right after? I guess that part didn't make any sense to me. 

I did like a few things about this book (besides the amazingly supportive parents). First, the title of this comes from a collective novel in Maddy's English class where each student took turns writing a chapter. I thought that was a pretty cool assignment and the story was interesting, especially the twists that the students put on it. Of course it became a huge metaphor for Maddy's life. What I really liked . . . no, LOVED . . . about this book was that there was NO ROMANCE!! In other books where a girl has been raped, there is usually guy involved who tries to make the girl get over her rape and all that. But not this time. Instead, there was friendship. Maddy developed a great friendship with a couple of girls and THAT was what helped her move on. I loved that.

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Skip this one. All in all, while there were a few good things about this one, I just had more issues with it than I would have liked. I wouldn't recommend this one.


  1. I know what you mean about wanting to actually see her experience those changes. It makes a bigger impact and understanding of the character. That's too bad this one wasn't better.

    1. Christy, I know. I was expecting so much more from this one, but oh well.

  2. Many tend to have that clouded judgement when it comes to therapy in books and films - which annoys me, too. I feel like this book would have an adverse effect on me. Apathy instead of sympathy. And man, I hope those boys got their comeuppance!

    1. Joy, yeah apathy is a good word. That is actually what I felt for most of the book. And maybe it's the fact that I have a degree in counseling or maybe it's the fact that I have been through therapy myself, but her attitude towards therapy just irked me.