Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold. This tour is being hosted by Fantastic Flying Book Club.
by Elana K. Arnold
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: February 25th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings, Fairy Tales
You are alone in the woods, seen only by the unblinking yellow moon. Your hands are empty. You are nearly naked.
And the wolf is angry.
Since her grandmother became her caretaker when she was four years old, Bisou Martel has lived a quiet life in a little house in Seattle. She’s kept mostly to herself. She’s been good. But then comes the night of homecoming, when she finds herself running for her life over roots and between trees, a fury of claws and teeth behind her. A wolf attacks. Bisou fights back. A new moon rises. And with it, questions. About the blood in Bisou’s past and on her hands as she stumbles home. About broken boys and vicious wolves. About girls lost in the woods—frightened, but not alone.
Elana K. Arnold, National Book Award finalist and author of the Printz Honor book Damsel, returns with a dark, engrossing, blood-drenched tale of the familiar threats to female power—and one girl’s journey to regain it.
First, this book is mature. Please read the author’s note. She admits that her books can be uncomfortalbe to read. This one has sex, with details, abuse, harassment and bullying, sexual asaults, and toxic masculinity. Please be aware of all of this.
That said, the book was good. The writing style honestly wasn’t my favorite, but that’s a me thing and not on the author. The book is fantasy in the sense of werewolves, but the issues are real world issues. At least here in the US, but I’m guessing in most places. Red Hood uses an old tale to tell a story about how women and men are treated differently. Men, but not all, can be wolves and society allows it. Boys are still hailed when they have lots of sex in high school and college. Girls are still called sluts. It talks about how many boys expect things from girls. How they feel entitled to these things. With boys like that, you’ll often find that their fathers are the same way. It’s learned and encouraged behavior. If a boy harasses a girl, it’s just innocent fun. It doesn’t matter how devastating it is for the girl. It’s often times excused or ignored.
While this book focuses on boys turning into wolves and killing girls, it also has a wonderful story of family, friendships, and strong women bonds. Bisou’s grandma took her in after Bisou’s mom was murdered by her father. Meme is exactly the type of role model a girl should have. She didn’t judge or shame her granddaughter. Even after she had sex. Meme is always supportive. But she also has a secret that has to come out. Bisou got her first period at 16 (during a sex act). When that happened, she had a heightened sense of smell and hearing. She could tell what was in the woods around her. A wolf starts chasing her. Somehow, Bisou is stronger than normal and she kills the wolf. The next day at school, a boy was said to be found dead in the woods. Bisou is sure she killed a wolf.
Even though the circumstances that brought three girls together, I absolutely loved the friendship between Bisou, Keisha, and Maggie. And then the relationship they all had with Meme. These girls didn’t judge. Keisha was a journalist and was always looking for the truth. Maggie was bullied out of school after her ex is killed. People started talking about how Maggie was bad. Not the drunk ex who pushed himself on girls. The bonds that formed between them ended up being such an important part of the story for me.
Overall, I thought this was a really good book that explored dark topics in an interesting way. It was dark, but needed. Yes, there is sex. There is a lot of talk about periods. All of these things are things that teens and young adults go through. It’s so important to acknowledge and call out when boys and men are acting sexist. When they expect things even when you say no. Sadly, this is the world we live in and I hope I see more changes in my lifetime. We’re off to a good start, but we have a long way to go.
I gave this book 3 1/2 stars rounded up to 4. Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for my review copy.
“Darling,” she said, and her hazel eyes were electric, her mouth a straight flat line, “it is not your job to make boys happy.”
Also, my darling, you do know, don’t you, that having sex in the past does not oblige you to have sex in the future.
Sometimes boys become wolves.
Well, this was a different time, in some ways. Much has changed, my darling, though too much has stayed the same.
I loved it. Being outside, alone, in the night. The moon gazing down on me, a benevolent goddess.
History is recorded by those in charge, and in the Western world, that means almost exclusively by white men.
“Our coven, ” Meme says. And then, “I see you here, my sweet girls, and I know that you are more together than you are apart. Bisou, you’re the hands. Keisha is the head. And Maggie, the heart.”
ELANA K. ARNOLD is the author of critically acclaimed and award-winning young adult novels and children’s books, including the Printz Honor winner Damsel, the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of, and Global Read Aloud selection A Boy Called Bat and its sequels. Several of her books are Junior Library Guild selections and have appeared on many best book lists, including the Amelia Bloomer Project, a catalog of feminist titles for young readers. Elana teaches in Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program and lives in Southern California with her family and menagerie of pets.
One copy of Red Hood (US Only)
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