CW: Language, animal abuse, sexual assault, religion, bullying, substance abuse, anxiety, and trauma
If you don’t know Katie Wismer, you’re seriously missing out. She’s a YouTuber that talks about books, writing, and more on her channel(s). I’ve been subscribed to her channel for quite a while now. So, let’s talk about this book.
While The Anti-Virginity Pact isn’t Katie’s first book, it is her first novel. However, I didn’t find any of the typical first-novel weirdness or issues that seem to plague first novels. Katie’s writing style is easy to read, which makes this book fly by. I had started it at the end of March and put it down to finish my school semester. I realized I hadn’t picked it back up yet, so when I did, I went back and started from the beginning. It probably took me 8 hours maximum to read the book.
That being said, don’t think this is some light, fluff novel that won’t hit you right in the gut. Because it definitely isn’t light or fluffy and it will hit you right in the gut. The characters in this book are people you know.
We all know the shy girl, possibly expected to be perfect on the basis of who her parents are. We all know the loud, boisterous best friend of said shy girl. We know the boy who likes the shy girl but has some skeletons in his closet.
Meredith has the bad luck to not only be a pastor’s daughter but to be one of the shy kids who has horrible anxiety. She is written in a completely realistic and honest way that makes you feel for her. I really liked her character, especially the fact that she’s an atheist regardless of her parents’ faith.
Johanna is the epitome of everything Meredith isn’t and is blatant proof that opposites attract. I relate to her a lot, because in all honesty, I can see myself doing and saying some of the things she does. Not all of them, but a good portion of them. She’s a perfect foil for Meredith and the pair just works as a best-friends duo.
Sam… I love Sam. He’s such a great character. He isn’t the gigantic jerk that you seem to always find in contemporary novels, which is a relief. His responses to the things that happen over the course of the book are very realistic and justifiable, unlike how some characters are written. Not once did I find myself saying “Oh, please, if he’s going to act that way, you’re better off without him.”
Squirt isn’t a human and frankly, I want her. I would just like to throw that out there.
This book deals with hard topics. We see what can happen when members of the same family have differing religious views. We see, in a very realistic way, what bullying in a high school setting can be like. Other topics include sexual assault, trauma, and animal abuse. These topics are handled tastefully but realistically. They were very well done. They pulled at my heartstrings, made me angry, and honestly made me want to reach through the book and start smacking people.
I highly recommend this book.