The Opposite of Innocent is a gripping verse novel that keeps a tension in your gut the entire way through. There’s moments of light, but also situations of darkness.
Luke has been away for two endless years, but he’s finally returning today. Lily was only twelve when he left. But now, at fourteen, she feels transformed. She can’t wait to see how Luke will react when he sees the new her. And when her mother tells her that Luke will be staying with them for a while, in the bedroom right next to hers, her heart nearly stops.
Having Luke back is better than Lily could have ever dreamed. His lingering looks set Lily on fire. Is she just imagining them? But then, when they’re alone, he kisses her. Then he kisses her again. Lily’s friends think anyone his age who wants to be with a fourteen-year-old must be really messed up. Maybe even dangerous. But Luke would never do anything to hurt her…would he?
The Opposite of Innocent is a book that takes a childhood crush and develops it into a story about a full blown abusive relationship. There’s the cycle of emotional abuse, the pressure, and the situations of emotional blackmail. It’s a book that can be hard to read, but what really set it apart where the moments of light that Sones paints for us.
This book was a little too close to home for me when I reflect on some of my past relationships. There were the, “if you loved me, you’d do this” and the actions to provoke jealousy. There were the emotional manipulation and all those things you want to confess, but you swallow it down. It all came back to me in waves of memories and lumps in my throat.
We get into our head these stories of romance, of love that defies all boundaries, but they’re just delusions. These ‘great’ love stories we hear about are full of angst, of suffering, of the wrong relationships, of terrible pain, but in the end they come around for the best. And that’s the background of what you hear about growing up. I remember thinking it was my job to fix someone, that if we loved each other, we’d make it through. All the cheating, the manipulation, the unhealthiness.
That’s not true. And it wasn’t true for me.
There’s a quiet honesty in these poems, like a diary of feelings and those raw thoughts we have bubbling up. It’s a book of all the things we wish we could say – all the moments we brush under the carpet. I felt these intense emotions where I remembered that teenage angst. Where I remembered them like a bruise of a memory. I felt the sadness, the hopelessness.
And at the same time, there were brushes of light. There’s Lily’s relationship with her sister and her friendship with Rose and Taylor. There’s even Rose and Lily’s obsession with romance novels. And that’s what makes this entire book more emotional. It isn’t only heartbreak and sadness, there’s moment of lightness.