“The weird thing about being a victim is, no one expects it to be them. Victims are always someone else, somehow tragically naive who foolishly trust the wrong person. I’d never make bad decisions like that. I was always careful. And yet, it wasn’t enough.”
I’ve always said the hardest book reviews to write are for the books I absolutely loved, and this sentiment applied to The Last Confession of Autumn Casterly by Meredith Tate. I devoured this book in three sittings, and was totally immersed in the story from beginning to end. It’s easily one of the best YA contemporary thrillers I’ve ever read, and deals with incredibly important topics.
Before we get any further, I’ll note that the author has a list of content warnings for this book on her website.
This book is told from the perspectives of two sisters.
First, there’s Autumn, a high school senior with a bad reputation. She sells prescription drugs to fellow classmates, spends a lot of time with collage-aged men, and is the main subject of many scandalous rumors. She’s popular, but for all the wrong reasons.
Second, we have Autumn’s younger sister, Ivy. Ivy is a sophomore and proud member of the Nerd Herd (the name her group of friends have given themselves), and enjoys playing board games, being part of the school band, and hanging out at Dunkin’ Donuts with her friends. Everyone might know her older sister, but Ivy flies under the radar and is perfectly fine with it.
These two sisters appear to be polar opposites on the surface, but deep down they aren’t really all that different. I’d also like to take a moment to say that THEY HAVE THE BEST NAMES EVER! This has nothing to do with the story, but I loved their names, okay?
Anyway . . .
Within the first few chapters of the book, Autumn gets beaten, abducted, and held hostage. (This happens very early on, and is literally in the book’s description, so it’s not a spoiler.) She hovers in a weird limbo, between life and death, while watching her family (Ivy) search for her. As a result of her past, many people think that her disappearance isn’t cause for concern, but Ivy knows something is wrong, and does whatever she can to find her sister. The chapters flip back and forth between each of them, so readers get a look at what each one is thinking and feeling.
The Last Confession of Autumn Casterly is an obvious narrative on rape culture. The author handles this subject very well. If you’re looking for a story that touches upon the #metoo movement, and will make your feminist heart burn, add this one to your list.
We see how victims are overlooked, how information gets misused, and how strong survivors are when it comes to fighting back. It’s not an easy story to tell, but it will hopefully show younger and older readers alike how they can stand up for themselves and others.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The Last Confession of Autumn Casterly comes out on February 11, 2020, and can be pre-ordered or purchased wherever books are sold.