Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book Review: Exposure by Therese Fowler

Title: Exposure
Author: Therese Fowler
Reading Level: Adult (Great for older YA too)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hardcover, 361 pages
Date Published: May 3, 2011
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
In Exposure, Therese Fowler has written her most gripping novel to date—a ripped-from-the-headlines story of ardent young love and a nightmarish legal maelstrom that threatens to destroy two families.

Amelia Wilkes’s strict father does not allow her to date, but that doesn’t stop the talented, winsome high school senior from carrying on a secret romance with her classmate Anthony Winter. Desperately in love, the two envision a life together and plan to tell Amelia’s parents only after she turns eighteen and is legally an adult. Anthony’s mother, Kim, who teaches at their school, knows—and keeps—their secret. But the couple’s passion is exposed sooner than planned: Amelia’s father, Harlan, is shocked and infuriated to find naked pictures of Anthony on his daughter’s computer. Just hours later, Anthony is arrested.

Despite Amelia’s frantic protests, Harlan uses his wealth and influence with local law enforcement and the media to label Anthony a deviant who preyed on his innocent daughter. Spearheaded by a zealous prosecutor anxious to turn the case into a public crusade against “sexting,” the investigation soon takes an even more disturbing and destructive turn.

As events spiral wildly out of control and the scandalous story makes national news, Amelia and Anthony risk everything in a bold and dangerous attempt to clear their names and end the madness once and for all.

A captivating page-turner, Therese Fowler’s
Exposure is also a deftly crafted, provocative, and timely novel that serves as a haunting reminder of the consequences of love in the modern age.
It’s hard to know where to begin with a story like Exposure. The premise is simple enough: 18 year old Anthony Winter is in love with 17 year old Amelia Wilkes. The two of them have a sexual relationship – which is perfectly acceptable according to North Carolina law – and happen to exchange nude photos of each other and with each other – which is not acceptable according to the law. Parents are infuriated, blame gets passed around, mostly by Amelia’s father Harlan, yet both teens are still 100% devoted to one another. Like I said, simple enough.

What makes Exposure stand out and truly become this phenom of a story, is Therese Fowler’s remarkable execution. Told in third person, from several different perspectives, the reader has insight into the emotions and the thought process of Amelia, Anthony, Kim Winter (Anthony’s mother), and Harlan Wilkes himself. Each chapter ignites more and more rage about the entire situation, but no one can ever be hated in it. Harlan, the most easily disliked of the characters, isn’t even a bad person. His view of the situation, while biased, unreasonable, and rash, is still understandable. He loves his daughter and he wants to do what is best for her, even when she insists that he’s only accomplishing the opposite. Kim Winter’s love for her son rings just as true as Harlan’s for his daughter, only she sees Anthony for who he is – not a man who should be on a sex offender registry, but as her son. Her son who is madly in love with the wrong man’s daughter and who is being unjustly punished by some backwards law that allows him to have sex with a 17 year old girl, but to not have naked photos of her, or her of him.

Seeing the strains put on each of these characters strengthens the story, and each of their reactions make the entire situation hit that much closer to home. Anthony and Amelia could be any two teens, in any school, in any state. Harlan could be any concerned, upset, outraged father. And Kim could be any devoted, terrified, and loving mother. These people are not out of the ordinary. It is the fact that they are so ordinary, that makes them stick out.

It is this – along with Fowler’s emotional hold on the reader – that gripped me from beginning to end. Exposure is a love story at its heart, yet Amelia and Anthony spend little time together. The majority of their love is displayed in sweet memories and quiet longings. But that love is quite evident regardless. Fowler writes the story like one would a play, in acts, and even with an encore. Each act brings more and more dissolution and despair, almost like one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. And she knows this, doing it with precision and purpose. Creating a poetic connection to her characters and their plight, two teens, madly in love, yet persecuted for the means in which they go about it. For hiding it, for lying, for keeping their private manners private, but doing so with technology they always use, but winds up being their damnation.

Exposure is provocative, gripping, intense, and all too timely – a modern tale of love, family, right, wrong, and the consequences of following your heart. It didn’t leave me breathless, but gasping for a resolution. I was stunned, blindsided, emotionally aghast, and so, so heartbroken that love in the 21st century can be this hard. That two people can love each other that much and have to suffer for it. It defies genres and preferences. It is timeless, a modern twist on a classic tragedy.

Opening line:
Nine hours before the police arrived, Anthony Winter stood, barefooted and wild, on the narrow front porch of the house he shared with his mother. ~ pg. 3

Favorite lines (Had far too many): To Anthony, the simple fact of Amelia, her very existence, was proof that there was magic in the world. ~ pg. 36
What insubstantial things, dreams. Amelia watched the one she’d conjured and nurtured and kept before her for twelve brilliant months dissolve like a sand castle in the onrush of a rising tide. ~ pg. 122
This one too:
Love: it had the power of flowing water to find even the most miniscule crack and to seep through it, then widen it, and then, in the case of a dyke or a dam, to burst the structure entirely. Love was a pleasure and a danger at the same time, a force of nature that humans naively imagined could be controlled. ~ pg. 235
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.

Find Therese Fowler online:

Buy it online:


Coffee and a Book Chick said...

This. Sounds. Incredible. I'm going to have to go pick this one up - the premise alone is fascinating!

Marce said...

I love that you think the author is able to get an emotional hold on the reader, excellent.

This book has been highly rated over the blogosphere. Great review

Candace said...

I turned this one down because I had too many books to read, but now I'm regretting it after reading your review! Although I AM still very overwhelmed, so oh well. But I'm so glad it was SO good!

Alyssa@Teens Read and Write said...

Sounds powerful!

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

Coffee and Book Chick - I so hope you do! The premise is interesting, but Fowler's writing is absolutely stunning. It's one of my favorite reads this year.

Marce - Fowler got to me, emotionally, right away. I had this instant pull towards the characters and felt for them so much.

Candace - Stupid overwhelming TBR piles! If you get a chance to pick this one up (library, maybe?) you definitely should. I promise that it will be worth it.

Alyssa - It is so powerful. Fowler has knack for writing in this splendidly beautiful way that is vivid and stunning. Exposure was INCREDIBLE!

Bere said...

Goodness. What an incredible review, Nikki. I'm absolutely convinced that I need to read this one. I will definitely be adding this one to my wish list. I love your favorite lines. =)

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