When Ben meets new girl Ani in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven he’s instantly drawn to her sassy wit and irreverent humor, not to mention the killer pair of legs that has every guy at school looking. Ben could’t be happier to find out that Ani likes him just as much and the two embark on a roller-coaster ride of new romance. They spend every waking moment together and quickly form an unbreakable bond. What seems like a romance that cannot be broken is shattered one night when Ani attends a party without Ben. When Ben gets the call to come see Ani at the county hospital his world is shattered. He has to sift through the rumors and the lies to find the truth about what really happened that night. After the night of the party Ani is changed. Gone is the sweet girl with the easy laugh and ready smile, replaced by a sullen and promiscuous girl who doesn’t seem to want to be helped. Ben will do anything to help heal his girlfriend, but will it be enough?
This novel is exhilarating and heartbreaking at the same time. From the very first page I fell in love with Ben. He’s a well rounded and fully developed lead character and by far one of my favorite guys depicted in young adult. What’s not to love? He’s sensitive, caring, and cute as can be. When he meets Ani in the parking lot and decides she’s his girl I was ready for the romance to happen. There was a bit of insta-love going on, which normally bugs me in a novel, but the book isn’t all that long, so the author really gets down to it in terms of setting up the connection between Ben and Ani. Their connection is amazing and I fell in love with the witty dialogue and quick verbal exchanges between them. They have a sweet, beautiful first love going on by the time Ani attends the fateful party without Ben.
For all the sweetness and love the first half of the novel brings, boy does it ever take a turn for the dark side. Unspeakable things happen to Ani that night at the party that change her in dramatic ways. Ben wants nothing more than to be the perfect boyfriend and heal Ani, but the hurt is irreparable. His perfect girl turns from doting and sweet to bitter and reckless and there’s no amount of love from Ben that can fix it. He carries the burden of her secret as long as he can before he realizes that the situation is beyond his control.
This book tackles the very troublesome topic of rape and sexual assault in a dramatic and shocking way. I don’t recommend it to the faint of heart. Ani’s assault is heinous and the details are pretty sensationalized, not to mention the brutality of the bullying at school that comes after. As Ani gets mired deeper and deeper into the hurt and becomes more sexually promiscuous as a result there are some shocking scenes, including a student-teacher incident that blew me away.
Although my first reaction was to think that these depictions were sensationalized and over the top, I quickly realized that Ani’s behavior is right in line with what some rape survivors actually experience. I’m proud of the author for not shying away from the harsh realities of the situation and for presenting a thought-provoking novel that makes the reader question their own reactions. The topic of rape and bullying needs to be addressed and Fault Line does an excellent job of doing that.