Skip to main content

Rage: A Love Story

Review

Rage: A Love Story

Johanna dreams of finding love like her sister and her husband, or her friend Novak with her guy of the week. Unfortunately, she thinks that the girl she fantasizes about doesn’t know she’s alive. But then Reeve does notice her and things go really wrong. Author Julie Anne Peters garnered a National Book Award nomination for LUNA, her novel about a transgender character, and she tackles another tough subject here: dating abuse. Suspenseful and intense, RAGE will bring older teen readers right into the mind of a girl abused by her partner to find out how and why she gets out of a harmful relationship.

Love is exhilarating for Johanna when she realizes that she and Reeve are falling for each other. Previously her life had consisted of hanging in her garage apartment. Her parents are dead, and her sister and husband live in the house. Johanna’s best friend Novak loves to borrow the apartment for hookups with her scummy boyfriend, but they’ve been friends for years, so she lets her. One consistent high point in her life is volunteering at a hospice center, offering comfort to those near death. She had done this for her cancer-stricken mother and continues to help out there. Her job at the mall is lame but pays for the car insurance.

Another highlight is that graduation is coming in a few weeks. Johanna is surprised when a favorite teacher asks her to help challenged student Robbie finish his senior essay so he can graduate, but she is thrilled when she realizes Robbie is Reeve’s brother. Soon Johanna is turning chance encounters into more and begins following the siblings home. But Reeve and Robbie’s home life is horrific, with violence, drugs and a scary stepfather.

Johanna tells Reeve she can take her away from all that, if Reeve will just love her. Reeve, who consumes all her thoughts, resists Johanna’s presence at times, and even hits her. Johanna tells herself such occurrences aren’t unusual when two people love each other. Then she fights with Novak and her sister, and the rest of the things in her life that were important and necessary begin unraveling so she can be with Reeve. More excuses are needed to explain away problems at the hospice center and at work, new injuries from Reeve and missing treasures at home.

Reeve’s life takes a terrible turn, and Johanna begins to listen to those who really love her. She sees that who she is when she’s with Reeve is not who she wants to be. When being with Reeve changes what is important to her, Johanna realizes that what they share isn’t really love.

Mature readers will find RAGE compelling. While some may wonder why Johanna stayed with Reeve despite the obvious signs that she should end it, statistics indicate that many people stay in abusive relationships. An extreme scenario in fiction may clue a reader in to a dangerous situation in his or her reality, and RAGE opens the door for discussion and thought. A list of hotlines and resources is available at the end of the novel.

    -

Reviewed by Amy Alessio on October 18, 2011

Rage: A Love Story
by Julie Anne Peters

  • Publication Date: September 8, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0375852093
  • ISBN-13: 9780375852091