Parachutes | Kelly Yang
TW: s*xual misconduct, r*pe
Author Kelly Yang approaches the #MeToo movement with a bold stroke and she is not afraid to back down. Based on her own research and experiences, she wrote the book Parachutes to feature two young women fighting against their school system and those part of it after they undergo cases of sexual misconduct.
Dani is a star student who excels in the school's debate program. She is "groomed" by her coach, who provided private lessons for her and eventually when her coach makes a move on her at an out-of-state competition, she refuses and she is beaten down by not only her teammates but also the school and her coach for speaking out on at least three different occasions.
Claire is an international student coming from China who stays with Dani and her mother for a majority of the book. While she is seen as stuck up for using her money, it is clear that she's supportive of her friends. She is battling against the family dynamic of her boyfriend Jay, who uses her to make himself look better for his parents. She is also battling against her own family dynamic of her father not being there for her and her mother, as well as cheating on her mother. Claire is inspired by Dani's heroic stance, and she also decides to make her case against Jay when he rapes her.
I wish I could amass my thoughts into sentences, but I don't think I can. All I can say is that it truly brings to light massive issues with the world and this book just makes me want to be better, for myself and for others. You don't know what others are going through, even if their outward complexion may be perfect. These characters were flawed, and I think that's one thing I hope for in every book I read. It's an important book, that is for sure. I don't think I would rate it as high as 5 stars, but I want to rate it above a 4. Still, I am trying to write this as fast as I can because I feel like if I don't write about it, I never will be able to get it out of me. I still don't have all of my thoughts together, and I never will, but I should at least try.
The world is scary. I feel lucky that I haven't had this happen to me, but I shouldn't feel lucky because it shouldn't be happening. I want to cry knowing that it happens and it happens far too often, with very little people backing the victims. There are people out there who will hurt others, but when everyone looks at them in a bad light, they turn themselves into a victim. That is seen with both Dani and Claire, the two young women of this book. The book is told in a dual narrative, allowing the reader to see the thoughts of Dani and Claire as they both navigate through the world of being a woman of color, sexual misconduct, non-nuclear families, and being an expatriate.
I felt horrible for Dani and Claire when they came forward with their respective cases. Dani is the daughter of a single Filipino mother and they both work at a cleaning agency. Claire is an international student who seemingly has it all, but her family wants everything to be done privately. One thing I love is that both of these girls are strong and so are their mothers. Their mothers believe them. While they both lose incredibly important things—for Dani, her full-scholarship to the private high school they both attend, and for Claire, the case against her assailant was lost due to the weight her ex-boyfriend's family has over the school, they still went forward to the police. I know not everyone will be able to go forward and report to the police, and even if they do everything perfectly, they may still come up short.
They also have each other's backs, even if they had a small fall-out in the middle of the book. It should be known that this book is not to detail a romantic love story. It is displaying the bravery of two young women—remember that they are students, around 16 to 17 years old—to fight for their own justice. Kelly Yang has proven herself as a formidable Young Adult author and I am intrigued to see where her journey will take her.
No book is perfect, but neither is life. This is a book where you feel like you should be screaming from the rooftops because everyone should be reading this. It's not just one of those other Young Adult books. This is a book that matters and it covers a wide range of topics that can easily be related to from any aspect. I apologize for my lack of organization of thoughts in this review. With the book being nearly 500 pages, it is loaded from the get-go. I told myself that if I wasn't going to write a review of this book, I would feel like a hypocrite. I'm supposed to be using my platform to inform others, and I want to inform you all that if you have to read a book, you should be reading this one.
Trust those who come forward. Trust those who have placed their trust in you. This is an absolutely scary thing that no one should have to face. Stand with them.