What first attracted me to Maybe I Will was its premise. The story is told in first person, and the reader doesn’t know if the main character is a boy or girl. In the story, the character is sexually assaulted and tries to deal with such a violent act happening to him or her. I’ve read numerous stories about rape and sexual assault, but never one about a character in which I didn’t know if that person was a girl or boy. For that reason, Maybe I Will is a disarming and somewhat engaging character study of Sandy (could be Sandra or Sandford) and how sexual assault isn’t about sex, but violence.
Sandy is a motivated high school sophomore that likes to quote Shakespeare on the fly and has dreams of attending Juilliard for acting. Sandy has great friends, attentive but not overbearing parents and the respect of classmates and teachers alike. When one of Sandy’s friends, Cassie, starts dating Aaron, Sandy doesn’t think more than twice about it. Until one day when left alone with Aaron, he assaults Sandy. Sandy is shaken. Not knowing how to react to such a violation, Sandy starts drinking alcohol to numb feelings, and as days and weeks pass by, Sandy’s friends, new and old, and parents begin to notice Sandy’s odd and out-of-character behavior.
Author Laurie Gray has years of experience as a deputy prosecuting attorney for crimes against children. Her handing of the subject is eye-opening, in that for once it makes a reader realize what happens to Sandy isn’t about sex, only violence. I must admit that I never saw it that way. On a subconscious level, I understood it as violence, but sex always seemed to overshadow rape. I think that is a great point to make to readers, especially if those readers are teens, that what Aaron did was pure violence and nothing else. That knowledge and understanding of it is so affirming when experienced through a character like Sandy.
Shakespeare is a big part of this novel. As mentioned earlier, Sandy is obsessed with Shakespeare and at low moments, even tries to compare his/her life to his many tragedies. Each chapter also begins with a quote or verse from one of Shakespeare’s works, a touch to the story that I quite liked.
My biggest issue with Maybe I Will is probably the dialogue and some of the interactions between Sandy and other teens. The dialogue was corny and cliché, especially in the lighthearted and comical moments. Teenagers don’t really talk like that, and those interactions gave the story a phoniness which I found distracting. I understand not every teenager is the same, but from someone who was recently a teen and runs a site for teens, I can spot the difference between something that is familiar and something that is cliché. In addition to that, none of the supporting characters get much development.
However, Maybe I Will is a short and simple read that finds a new way to explore how sexual assault can affect anyone, not just a boy or girl. The ending is sweet and somewhat unexpected. I liked how things didn’t all get wrapped up. Life always leaves a few loose strings, and Gray did get that right.
Maybe I Will by Laurie Gray will be available wherever books are sold on March 15th. Support The Young Folks and purchase the book from our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.