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Posted & filed under Children's Book Reviews

Gang raped on her way home from a high school play, Maddy tells no one. With no witnesses, no pregnancy and the appalling knowledge that others in her position who reported it have been treated badly, she returns to school in the fall with heightened anxiety. Finding herself in an English class with one of her rapists, she is harassed, reminding her of that terrible night. When her English teacher assigns a class project of writing a book together, the collective story that unfolds helps Maddy realise she’s not as alone as she once thought.

Known for such gritty teen books as Born Ugly and The Lottery, Goobie excels in a story about making a way through the long term effects of unspeakable trauma. With no words to express the raw anguish inside her, Maddy copes by burning herself with cigarette butts and digging her nails into her hands.

Through the class assignment of writing The Pain Eater however, Goobie parallels Maddy’s journey with the fictional story of Farang, a young woman used by her tribe to absorb their pain. As both girls start questioning the injustice in their lives, they learn new ways of expressing grief.

While Goobie has the ability to tear her characters and readers apart with harrowing events, she thankfully also has the considerable skill to build them back up again, offering hope and unique healing in a dark situation.

  • The Pain Eater

    By Beth Goobie, Published by Second Story Press
    • ISBN 13: 978-1-772-600-209
Amy Mathers
An avid promoter of Canadian teen fiction, Amy Mathers completed the Marathon of Books in 2014. The money she raised allowed the Canadian Children’s Book Centre to fund the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award. She also reviews for the Canadian Children’s Book News and writes a monthly article for the CCBC e-newsletter.