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Publishers Weekly Review
Reliable Johanna secretly fantasizes about romantic interludes with wild girl Reeve, but it's only when she agrees to tutor Robbie, Reeve's autistic twin brother, that she actually begins to understand just how troubled her anger-prone crush's life is. Johanna has her own set of problems (her parents are dead, and her relationship with her sister, Tessa, has been strained since Johanna came out), but she is still shocked when she reads Robbie's essay detailing his and Reeve's abusive childhood and by the violence she witnesses outside their shabby home. But as Johanna's romance with Reeve intensifies, so does Reeve's abuse (at a graduation party, she punches Johanna in the face). Reeve's home life may seem extreme-especially an act of violence toward the book's end-but readers will appreciate Peters's (Luna) incisive handling of such ambitious material. Johanna is a well-crafted character, and readers will understand her motivations, even while wishing she would listen to Tessa, who tells her, "You want to be her savior. But the way she treats you, that isn't love." Ages 14-up. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-Johanna, 17, watched her mother die while her older sister escaped to college, and she fantasizes about a relationship with Reeve Hartt. Reeve's mother is a junkie prostitute, and her mother's boyfriend, no surprise, physically and sexually abuses Reeve. Reeve is hypersexual and violently angry, and she beats Johanna. The abuse in the Hartt house is so public and over-the-top that real-world children's services would have removed her long before the novel takes place. Everything happens too fast here, with YA tropes-battering, drug abuse, sexual confusion, abandonment-in place of deep character development. Both the plot and pace of Rage are so frenetic that there's no time to feel anything for the characters. The only vivid character is Robbie, Reeve's intelligent, deranged brother. Teens may feel set up, though, when Peters martyrs him. Johanna's fantasy segments are forced instead of sexy, intrusive instead of illuminating. Though Peters exposes girl-on-girl abuse, Janet Tashjian's Fault Line (Holt, 2003) and Chris Lynch's Inexcusable (S & S, 2005) remain better choices.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Peters (Far from Xanadu, 2005; Luna, 2004) continues to hew to the lines of realistic contemporary stories in which teens confident in their gay or lesbian orientation work through serious issues that aren't necessarily related to their sexuality. In this story, graduating high-schooler Johanna has proved her maturity and reliability even before the story opens: she cared for her dying and widowed mother on her own during her junior year of high school. That doesn't mean she is without serious lessons to learn and she and the reader live through the compelling, compulsive love she has for Reeve, an abused peer who has herself become abusive. Peters' descriptions of events, emotions, and points of view are vivid and her plotting, which here includes dramatic violence that kills off one of the central characters, is airtight. Definitely for readers who already appreciate Peters' straight-on takes of gay teen life, this book may feature her best writing yet and will make her many new fans.--Goldsmith, Francisca Copyright 2009 Booklist
Horn Book Review
(High School) Johanna -- the good girl, the hospice volunteer, the go-to employee -- fell for classmate Reeve Hartt long before Reeve ever talked to her. But once they meet and start dating, Johanna's vivid, sensual "Joyland" fantasies of their shared love ("I run a red silk scarf over her flat belly...I kiss her so soft and gentle it's mist and fog") slowly turn into a nightmare of abuse ("She fists my face. I feel my neck snap and something come loose"). Peters approaches the difficult subject matter with nuance and insight, and her charismatic but flawed protagonists (Johanna with her savior complex; Reeve, a product of abuse whose moments of manipulation and rage are balanced with others of self-awareness and compassion) carry the story, allowing it to develop naturally and believably. Secondary characters as well are exquisitely crafted and include Johanna's estranged sister Tessa and Reeve's possibly autistic, definitely disturbed brother Robbie, who figures in the devastating climax of the novel. The systematic destruction of everything Johanna holds dear, from her job and hospice work to Tessa's trust, is as upsetting to read as the violence itself. Peters has always steered clear of making her gay characters model minorities; here, allowing Johanna's and Reeve's personalities a wealth of contradiction and complexity, she creates a deeply human story of abuse and redemption. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Love hurts. Dependable Johanna is drawn to mercurial Reeve, whose anger-management issues stem from her abusive home life. To express herself, Reeve hits. Johanna is thrilled just to be near Reeve in all her temperamental glory, even if it means alienating her best friend in the process. Reeve eventually turns her fists on Johanna, who remains loyal, lying and cheating to protect Reeve and her brother. Their relationship falters after Reeve's stepfather kills her mother and brother. From there, Peters rebuilds Johanna's and Reeve's lives as they explore their diverging goals for the future and confrontation of their individual losses of family. With very little back story to help them, readers may find it difficult to establish characters' relationships and histories right at the beginning. Any reader who's ever had a crush, however, will understand Johanna's head-over-heels feelings for Reeve. The subjects of sexuality, abuse and loss are difficult, but the author knows exactly how to move teen characters through them and toward a hopeful ending. The look at dating violence in same-sex relationships makes this book one that meets a need. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.