Preachers’ daughters aren’t supposed to be atheists. They’re also not supposed to make pacts to lose their virginity by the end of the year, but high school senior Meredith Beaumont is sick of letting other people tell her who to be.
Spending the last four years as Mute Mare, the girl so shy just thinking about boys could trigger panic attacks, Meredith knows exactly what it’s like to be invisible. But when a vindictive mean girl gets her manicured claws on the anti-virginity pact and spreads it around the school—with Mare’s signature at the bottom—Mare’s not so invisible anymore. She just wishes she was.
Now the girls mutter “slut” as they pass her in the hall, and the boys are lined up to help complete her checklist. When she meets a guy who knows nothing of the pact, their budding romance quickly transforms from a way to get her first time over with to a genuine connection. But when the pact threatens to destroy her new relationship and the fragile foundation of her seemingly perfect family, Mare has to decide what’s more important: fixing her reputation and pleasing her parents, or standing up for the person she wants to be.
CW: Language, animal abuse, sexual assault, religion, bullying, substance abuse, anxiety, and trauma
If you don’t know Katie Wismer, you’re seriously missing out. She’s a YouTuber that talks about books, writing, and more on her channel(s). I’ve been subscribed to her channel for quite a while now. So, let’s talk about this book.
While The Anti-Virginity Pact isn’t Katie’s first book, it is her first novel. However, I didn’t find any of the typical first-novel weirdness or issues that seem to plague first novels. Katie’s writing style is easy to read, which makes this book fly by. I had started it at the end of March and put it down to finish my school semester. I realized I hadn’t picked it back up yet, so when I did, I went back and started from the beginning. It probably took me 8 hours maximum to read the book.
That being said, don’t think this is some light, fluff novel that won’t hit you right in the gut. Because it definitely isn’t light or fluffy and it will hit you right in the gut. The characters in this book are people you know.
We all know the shy girl, possibly expected to be perfect on the basis of who her parents are. We all know the loud, boisterous best friend of said shy girl. We know the boy who likes the shy girl but has some skeletons in his closet.
Meredith has the bad luck to not only be a pastor’s daughter but to be one of the shy kids who has horrible anxiety. She is written in a completely realistic and honest way that makes you feel for her. I really liked her character, especially the fact that she’s an atheist regardless of her parents’ faith.
Johanna is the epitome of everything Meredith isn’t and is blatant proof that opposites attract. I relate to her a lot, because in all honesty, I can see myself doing and saying some of the things she does. Not all of them, but a good portion of them. She’s a perfect foil for Meredith and the pair just works as a best-friends duo.
Sam… I love Sam. He’s such a great character. He isn’t the gigantic jerk that you seem to always find in contemporary novels, which is a relief. His responses to the things that happen over the course of the book are very realistic and justifiable, unlike how some characters are written. Not once did I find myself saying “Oh, please, if he’s going to act that way, you’re better off without him.”
Squirt isn’t a human and frankly, I want her. I would just like to throw that out there.
This book deals with hard topics. We see what can happen when members of the same family have differing religious views. We see, in a very realistic way, what bullying in a high school setting can be like. Other topics include sexual assault, trauma, and animal abuse. These topics are handled tastefully but realistically. They were very well done. They pulled at my heartstrings, made me angry, and honestly made me want to reach through the book and start smacking people.
I highly recommend this book.
I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.