Michele's thoughts: Anna, who has been going by the name “Exquisite” for the last three years, presents a tough, hardened exterior; but her revealing inner dialogue shows that down deep, she is a scared girl who has seen and experienced far too much for the tender age of 16. This is a mature subject, but it’s written in a voice young enough to make it a great read to share with my teen. While she could look at Anna’s story with a point of view from a shared age and as a cautionary tale, I read it from an entirely different standpoint as a mother. My heart broke for Anna and, as I learned more about her, her mother as well. While this book may be a work of fiction, the story is all too real. It is gut-wrenching to think of how many kids run away to escape an unhappy home life only to face more danger and violence than they were trying to get away from. I loved the beautiful ending; and I especially loved the discussion that followed between my daughter and myself. Since she is the target audience for this book, I’m excited she joined me in sharing her thoughts. There was one aspect of the story I struggled with but after we discussed it, I decided to let Mckenzie address that below because I loved how she put it. I’m really glad we were able to share this book, and I believe Naked is a thought-provoking story that tackles a very sensitive subject. An impressive debut for author Stacey Trombley!
"'We're all messed up in some way,' he says. 'You're not so different from the rest of us.'"
Mckenzie's thoughts: Anna ran away from home when she was 13. In her family, she never felt like she belonged; she couldn't be what her parents wanted. So she left in hopes of finding a new life in New York. She found one, but it was nowhere near the life she had dreamed of. Anna's story broke my heart. The fact that she felt so out of place at home and thought the only answer was running away is something that has never crossed my mind, but I know it is something many young girls contemplate.
I like that Anna is a different kind of protagonist from those in the books I usually read. She is broken, but she is strong as well. Much stronger and braver than she realizes. And I loved watching her learn to accept and love herself for who she is. Another character I loved was Jackson. Everyone needs a Jackson. I was so happy Anna had him because without Jackson she might not have been able to overcome certain things in her life. I also adored Anna's mom. Anna and her mother had serious problems to work through, but I really admired her mother and how she did what she could to help her daughter adjust to a normal life again. Some of my other favorite characters included Alex, Zara ((I seriously want a Rottweiler now)), and Jen. Something that happened with Jen was actually my only gripe with Naked. Jen is mistreated by most of the students at her school because she slept with a popular girl's boyfriend. The thing that bothered me though was how it felt glossed over that Jen was raped. She had been drunk, and the guy had not. A lot of people would not consider it rape if she hadn't told him no. But it doesn't matter what she said or if she refused. She was drunk. Drunk means no. Anything but "yes" means no. Even if she didn't say it. But as Mom and I decided, this is Anna’s story, not Jen’s. So don't let that deter you from reading Naked because there are so many positives and wonderful moments. There may be things we weren’t privy to, and hopefully Jen can tell her story in the future.
All in all, I really enjoyed this story and was extremely happy with the ending. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work.
We received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for our honest review.
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