Exposure by Therese Fowler
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, YA
Source: Publisher (Ballentine Books)
Amelia Wilkes's strict father does not allow her to date, but that doesn't stop the talented, winsome high school senior from carrying on a secret romance with her classmate Anthony Winter. Desperately in love, the two envision a life together and plan to tell Amelia's parents only after she turns eighteen and is legally an adult. Anthony's mother, Kim, who teaches at their school, knows--and keeps--their secret. But the couple's passion is exposed sooner than planned: Amelia's father, Harlan, is shocked and infuriated to find naked pictures of Anthony on his daughter's computer. Just hours later, Anthony is arrested.
Despite Amelia's frantic protests, Harlan uses his wealth and influence with local law enforcement and the media to label Anthony a deviant who preyed on his innocent daughter. Spearheaded by a zealous prosecutor anxious to turn the case into a public crusade against "sexting," the investigation soon takes an even more disturbing and destructive turn.
As events spiral wildly out of control and the scandalous story makes national news, Amelia and Anthony risk everything in a bold and dangerous attempt to clear their names and end the madness once and for all.
Do you remember Romeo and Juliet? Well meet Anthony and Amelia. First, do not be fooled into thinking that the book description conveys anything about the storyline. I couldn't put this book down, which is saying a lot because I'm in full blown finals prep. This story is emotional and heart-wrenching without making you want to cry or jump off a bridge. This is not a story about teens making decisions or fighting with their parents. It is a story about... Society. People. Love. I loved how the story was set up; it truly felt like the setting of a stage where the characters could perform effortlessly. Here the characters are well-drawn and realistic. The four main characters, Anthony, Amelia, Ms. Winter, and Mr. Wilkes, all tell the story and you get a clear voice from each of them. Transitions are seamless. It's just an all-around well-written book.
But believe it or not, that's now what made this book awesome or special. This book was awesome because the author had a story to get out that meant something. It is so relevant and important; yet involves no preaching or any efforts to sway the reader in a certain direction. Her attempt to tell all the sides of the story may actually make you mad, make you want to be swayed, but that isn't what the story sets out to do. This is the kind of book that you read in book clubs or discuss with your close book buddies. I really can't wait for someone else to read it, so I can really discuss the issues and gather some opinions. All of the issues are grey rather than black and white and I still think of the book long after I've completed it.
As for the sexting... I think the author sets up a big discussion about the idea of "harm." When is there harm by this activity? Who suffers the harm from this activity? I think these questions are very important and the answers aren't clear. Our laws are written to address all people and crimes consistently and without bias, but do they?
There is a little insight into a few flaws in the American legal system and none of it is exaggerated. It is a young adult book, but everyone should read it, especially parents : ) While I wrote what may come across as a serious review, all the good things are there. Loving protagonists, sweet romance, and a bad guy. At the end, I closed the book, stared at it, looked up from my trance for the first time in three days, and smiled.