Exposed - Review

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
Publication date: February 22, 2011 by Random House Books for Young Readers
ISBN10: 0375866930 / ISBN13: 9780375866937

Category: Young Adult Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Keywords: Realistic Fiction, Friendship, Sex

In the dim light of the darkroom, I'm alone, but not for long.
As white turns to gray, Kate is with me.
The background of the dance studio blurred, so the focus is all on her
legs extended in a perfect soaring split.
The straight line to my squiggle,
my forever-best friend.
Sixteen-year-old Liz Grayson is Photogirl—sharp, focused and ready to take the world by storm with her camera. But Liz's entire life is called into question when her brother is accused of a crime—and the accuser is Liz's own best friend.

As the aftershocks from that accusation rip through Liz's world, everything she thought she knew about photography, family, friendship and herself, shifts out of focus. And for the first time in her life, Liz finds herself unable to trust her own point of view.

Told in stunning, searingly raw free verse, Exposed is Kimberly Marcus's gut-wrenching, riveting debut and will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson and Virginia Euwer Wolff.

How I found out about this book: At ALA Midwinter, I attended a Random House spotlight on new YA titles and received an ARC of Exposed.

My review: Whoever penned the book blurb is right--stunning, gut-wrenching, riveting--I can't think of three words to better describe Exposed. The beauty of the novel lies in how every word is so carefully chosen and placed; never have I been so struck by the visual/lexical duality of reading. It's not just because Liz is a photographer, and therefore thinks in pictures--it's more the thought-provoking way Marcus composes her poems: as meticulously as a skilled photographer frames and focuses her shots.

Raw completely describes how I felt while I read. Marcus's topic is an uncomfortable one to say the least, and of the emotions she evokes in this book I would have to paraphrase that these three remain: love, sadness, and pain: and the greatest of these is Pain. There's the pain of secrets kept by those who used to keep secrets only with you. There's the pain of lies that your loved ones swear is really truth. Hardest of all, there's the pain of not knowing what is the right thing to do.

The messages in Exposed are mixed, owing to the different perspective of the main character and the shocking outcome of the book. It's hard to discuss without giving away details about who is truly guilty of what crime, and what happens to the characters and their relationship by the end of the novel. The issues of self-esteem and loyalty explore so many gray areas that it is difficult to know who is right and who is wrong. Ultimately, Exposed leaves the reader feeling just that--vulnerable, shattered, emotions laid bare.

Who should read this book: People have asked me why I read books that address the topic of sexual abuse. I think it's so important to have books that address these issues mainly because the topic is so taboo, and when a person (of any age) becomes a victim, the incongruity between what that person needs (safety) and what they have in reality (abuse) can drive that person to behave irrationally. It can drive them to silence and depression when they really should be screaming for help.

Novels like ExposedSpeakLiving Dead Girl, and Because I Am Furniture can lead someone to the help and understanding that they need. Victims of abuse need to be reminded that all is not lost, that they are still human and have rights, and that life is still worth living.

Visit the author online at She is a clinical social worker specializing in the treatment of childhood and adolescent trauma.

Follow @kimberlymarcus on Twitter.

Add this book to your Goodreads shelf.

Shortlink to this review:

Buy this book online from an independent bookstore near you:
Buy this book online

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network can be found at

Comments: What do you think? (No spoilers, please). Would you/have you read this book?
Why or why not should books on difficult topics be written and published for young adults?

ARC acquired from publisher at ALA Midwinter 2011.