MAYBE I WILL by Laurie Gray. Luminis Books (www.luminisbooks.com), March 2013. Ages 13+ ($14.95 Paperback – ISBN 978-1-935462-70-5, $26.95 Hardcover – ISBN 978-1-935462-71-2, $9.95 eBook – ISBN 978-1-935462-72-9)
Publisher’s Description: It’s not about sex. It’s about how one secret act of violence changes everything—how best friends can desert you when you need them most, how nobody understands. It’s about the drinking and stealing and lying and wondering who you can trust. It’s about parents and teachers, police officers and counselors—all the people who are supposed to help you, but who may not even believe you. It’s about how suddenly all of your hopes and dreams can vanish, and you can find yourself all alone, with nothing and no one. Your only choice is to end it all or to start over…and all you can think is Maybe I Will.
Reviews: Mike Mullin, award-winning author of ASHFALL and ASHEN WINTER wrote about Maybe I will: “In MAYBE I WILL, author Laurie Gray deals with a difficult topic in a thoughtful, nuanced, and realistic way. A pinch of humor and dash of Shakespeare add flavor to what otherwise might be an overly heavy stew. MAYBE I WILL belongs on teens’ reading lists and bookshelves alongside classics of its type such as Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK and Cheryl Rainfield’s SCARS.”
About the Author: Laurie Gray presents a compelling picture of the realities of sexual assault in MAYBE I WILL, drawing on her years of experience as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, dealing with crimes against children. The twist in the story is that we never know for sure if the victim is a boy or a girl, and we realize that it doesn’t matter, because it’s not about sex.
Diane’s Notes: I was scared to read this book and kept putting off getting a round-to-it. I received a request to review Maybe I Will during a time when my world was crashing down. I have been a victim of sexual assault and abuse. I have been in the situation of keeping my worries to myself and wondering if I could handle the depression while trying to hold myself together and pretend to be “good” – just so my family and friends wouldn’t worry. I didn’t want to be seen as just a victim, nor did I want to be seen as a problem that other people would have to deal with. I was even afraid that if I read Maybe I Will, that I might consider giving up.
I should have trusted the author Laurie Gray and publicist Rebecca Grose. While there is a sexual assault, it is not graphically over-described. Suicide is not the entire focus of the story. Alcoholism is not the ending of one’s life. Friends not being there for you is simply another obstacle to survive. The character has to learn to cope, survive, and adjust.
Readers will learn new techniques for surviving the teen years and life’s unfair, unjust events. Maybe I Will is an essential purchase for libraries with young adults requesting books like 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin, A Child Called It, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones .
The hardest part of reading Maybe I Will was that I had read the twist – that we never know for sure if the victim is a boy or a girl – and that I spent the entire first reading looking for clues to prove the character was one or the other. Pulling that perspective off was a dramatic success. By having the character almost gender neutral, this title will be easier to put in both male and female reader’s hands. While some said they were convinced it was a girl because they were female readers, if someone found themselves relating too closely, they could pretend the character was a member of the opposite sex and build in distance.
Perhaps the best parts of Maybe I Will were the poems and the literary references interwoven. How many teen titles link Shakespeare, Peter Pan, and Amazing Grace? The main character uses a journal to write through the process of discovering the answer to the question “What is character?” The poems are full of angst and speak to teens – particularly to 8th and 9th graders with stanzas like:
Such a bitter seed I swallowed.
No one saw, and no one knew.
I buried it inside myself
Where it took root and grew.
I feel like I have swallowed a black hole.
The cold and empty darkness never ends.
Emotions trample down my weary soul,
No longer trusting any of my friends.
Maybe I Will leaves the reader with hope. There is hope, there are ways to survive the bad, and there are people out there to help. The reality is that the bad is not always sufficiently punished in our legal system. But Maybe I Will may be the title that helps a teen open up and tell someone, rather than continue to suffer in silence.