Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf
Alright friends. I apologize for the length of this review, but this book really deserves to be talked about. It focuses on such a serious and sensitive topic that I wanted to make sure my review was thorough and gave the book the attention it deserves.
Ali Greenleaf and Blythe Jensen couldn't be more different. Ali is sweet, bitingly funny, and just a little naive. Blythe is beautiful, terrifying, and the most popular girl in school. They've never even talked to each other, until a party when Ali decides she'll finally make her move on Sean Nessel, her longtime crush, and the soccer team's superstar. But Sean pushes Ali farther than she wants to go. When she resists--he rapes her.
Blythe sees Ali when she runs from the party, everyone sees her. And Blythe knows something happened with Sean, she knows how he treats girls. Even so, she's his best friend, his confidant. When he begs her to help him, she can't resist.
So Blythe befriends Ali in her attempt to make things right with Sean, bringing Ali into a circle of ruthless popular girls, and sharing her own dark secrets. Despite the betrayal at the heart of their relationship, they see each other, in a way no one ever has before.
In her searing, empowering debut novel, Hayley Krischer tells the story of what happened that night, and how it shaped Ali and Blythe forever. Both girls are survivors in their own ways, and while their experiences are different, and their friendship might not be built to last, it's one that helps each of them find a way forward on their own terms.
Perfect for fans of Rory Power and Laurie Halse Anderson, this sharp, emotional debut follows two girls as they navigate tumultuous relationships, the effects of trauma, and what empowerment means to them.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
I want to start out this review by saying that this book deals with a very sensitive and triggering topic-rape. In my opinion, I don’t believe the content is too graphic but I also don’t feel as though I am able to make that distinction since rape and sexual assault are not things that I have ever encountered. If this is a triggering subject for you, then I would suggest maybe skipping this one, and the author even states in her acknowledgments that if this is not a topic that you are comfortable with to please stop reading.
I don’t even know where to begin with this book. There were so many incredible things about it and I really felt as though it was an incredibly impactful read. I haven’t read “My Dark Vanessa” because although I can handle a lot, I fell as though that is one book I would struggle with. From what I know about the book, however, I would say that “Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf” is the YA version of “My Dark Vanessa.”
This book was in a dual POV which I really enjoyed and felt like it really added to the story. The first POV is Ali Greenleaf, the quiet girl that goes unnoticed but has a huge crush on soccer star Sean Neelan. Through most of the book, we see Ali fighting to admit what happened and her confusion surrounding the whole situation.
The second POV is Blythe Jensen, the girl who seems to have it all and rules the school. She also happens to be one of Sean’s best friends. I loved that we were really able to get inside Ali’s head and feel all of the emotions she was feeling like confusion, helplessness, embarrassment, and disgust. We were also able to see all of Blythe’s internal struggles and some of the conflicts she faced such as her loyalty to him and her trying to justify what he had done to Ali and convince herself and everyone else that he was a good person.
I really loved the friendship that developed between Blythe and Ali. Even though it was a plan that Sean had concocted to get Blythe to smooth things out with Ali, it turned into a very real and genuine friendship. Both girls had trauma that they had dealt with in the past and were able to connect on a very different level than they were able to with any of their other friends.
I also really enjoyed how we got to see that just because someone looks perfect or acts like their life is perfect, you never really know what they're going through. Blythe seems like she has it all but her family and life at home is a mess which is another way that she and Ali are able to connect. It was great to see the contrast between Ali and Blythe both at the beginning of the book and throughout as we experience the rise and fall of both girls.
The book starts out with Blythe on top of the world as Ali's life is crumbling, but then Ali begins to pick up the pieces and put her life back together while Blythe begins to realize that Sean is not a good person and that he isn't her friend, causing the life she knew to fall apart.
The author did such an incredible job of portraying Sean. I knew what he did was wrong but second-guessed his character at times because I always want to see the best in people and I thought that he could have genuinely felt sorry and regretted what he had done. However, a small piece of me always knew he didn't truly regret what he had done, he just regretted the fact that Ali might say something, and his world could come crashing down. By the end of the book, it was so evident that Sean was just a self-absorbed guy who was used to getting anything and everything he wanted in life and that he would never change. The moment that Blythe realizes Sean is not a good friend or a good person is one of my favorite parts of the book and also contains my absolute favorite quote from the book, “You’d take the moon if you could, wouldn’t you? You would lasso the stars right from the sky just to brighten your little section of the soccer field while the rest of us sat in the dark.”
It is at this moment that *spoiler alert* she slams the door in his face, FINALLY seeing him for what and who he truly is and I proceeded to jump up and down like a child screaming with joy.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Although it is a very difficult topic I don’t feel like it was glorified or overdramatized as sensitive topics sometimes are. I felt as though the author did a fantastic job of getting us inside both Blythe and Ali’s heads so that we were able to feel all of their struggles, fear, pain, and confusion as if it were our own.
For a chance to win your own copy of Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf, enter the giveaway via the link below!