Exposure by Therese Fowler
May 3, 2011; Ballantine Books
*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
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. (courtesy of Goodreads)
I started Exposure telling myself I would read 50 pages and then pick up another book I wanted to read. 50 pages quickly turned into 100. I did put the book down at that point only to pick it up a few hours later intending to read another 100 pages. That 100 turned into 300 pages as I tore through the rest of the book. I actually had to force myself to lower the book from my eyes as I was walking across a busy street.
Exposure is a harrowing tale. It shows the horrible consequences that can occur when normal teenagers in love act like normal teenagers in love, but whose actions run afoul of overzealous parents and prosecutors.
Amelia and Tony are thoughtful teens and are head over heels for each other. They both dream of being on Broadway and are romantic enough to sigh over the tragic love of Romeo and Juliet. Quite appropriate since their story resembles Romeo and Juliet, especially at the beginning when Amelia has to hide her relationship with Tony from her overprotective parents.
Amelia's fear of her father discovering her relationship is well-founded. When he finds some nude pictures that Tony emailed Amelia, her dad has the boy arrested for violating his innocent little girl. When it turns out that Amelia texted Tony nude pictures of herself, she is also arrested. The local prosecutor, eyeing a run for governor, sets out to make examples of the teenage "sexting" scandal.
The book is told from the perspectives of Amelia Tony, Tony's mom, and Amelia's dad. I like stories with alternating points of view. It's helpful to understand different characters' thoughts. Especially Amelia's dad. It would be so easy to paint him as a one-dimensional enemy who ruined two kids' lives. While that may be the result of his overreaction and stubborn refusal to believe Amelia is anything other than his little girl, we do see that he honestly believes he is protecting his daughter. He thought he was doing the right thing, but it exploded in his face.
I sympathized with and liked Amelia and Tony. I did, however, think they were hopelessly naive. Their naivete quite annoyed me at times. First off, I think texting or emailing naked pictures of yourself is really dumb and not art as these kids thought. Secondly, even as a teen, I always figured teenage relationship were just a temporary thing. I didn't expect to find my eternal soulmate and didn't think anything was a life or death matter. So while I sympathized with these characters, it was hard to empathize with them.
Exposure is definitely a page-turner. Something is always happening - mostly getting worse. When potential solutions do come, the show up fast and you won't be able to stop reading. The overaching plot is a bit predictable, but there are plenty of twists to keep you interested. The characters are also a bit stereotypical, especially Amelia's wealthy, good-old-Southern-boy dad, but I was looking for a good story, not richly developed characters. If you want a quick, quasi-thriller reader, I highly recommend Exposure.
Rating: 4 / 5