About the Book:
- Intense scenes depicting sexual assault and drug abuse
- Reference to an eating disorder
- Mental illness
- Victim blaming
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.
Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf is an emotional exploration of rape culture, from the aftermath of sexual assault to victim blaming and the ways in which we can be complicit or enable this behaviour (both knowingly and unknowingly). It also highlighted the extent to which trauma permeates into one’s everyday life, and how the process of coping with and recovering from this trauma is non-linear. While I felt that this topic was handled sensitively, it could be a triggering subject so I appreciated the respectful way that it was mentioned in the introductory author acknowledgements.
On top of the previously mentioned topics, this book also touched upon substance abuse. This particular piece of the storyline wasn’t very strong, given that it involved a secondary character who had little character development; her entire personality was relegated to “the addict” and I felt that this undermined the intended message of how substance use, for some individuals, is a way to cope with trauma.
Overall, Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf was powerful, topical, and timely – something that was further underscored by the author’s note at the end of the book. This raw, emotional read is something that I won’t soon forget.
About the Author:
Hayley Krischer has been an award-winning journalist for over 20+ years. She is a contributing writer for the New York Times, where she has covered feminist roller skaters, Instagram obsessed moms, profiled Gabrielle Union, Tatum O’Neal, and S.E. Hinton. She has also written for many publications about women and teenage girls including Marie Claire, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic,Lenny Letter, and the Hairpin. Her YA debut, SOMETHING HAPPENED TO ALI GREENLEAF will be released in fall 2020 from Razorbill. Hayley received her MFA in creative writing from LesleyUniversity. Her first newspaper job was as an editorial assistant at the Boston Globe. She reads tarot cards.