No Virgin / No Shame, Anne Cassidy.

Oh hey, welcome to my stop on the blog tour for 'No Shame', the latest novel from Anne Cassidy published with Hot Key books! 

So, as you all know, I was recently galavanting around Europe (okay, just popping in and out of two particular cities) and so I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear (/read) that I did a lot of...reading!
Plane journeys are perfect for tackling the TBR pile, let me tell you. I kept on track with my current reading schedule (the bewitching re-read) and had the whole flight home from Berlin to dive into – and devour – this truly unique book. 

'No Shame' is the story of Stacey Woods (who we readers may have met in Anne's book 'No Virgin') and her fight for justice after being raped 9 months ago. This fight involves facing her attacker, and his family, in court before a judge and a jury. It's her word against his, and sadly that's not a good situation for a young woman to be in.

The story twists and turns, but the dark themes are constant and undeniable. The tension and hurt is intense. At times while reading, I found myself wobbling considerably and desperately turning the pages, hoping hard for Stacey.

I was so delighted to procure a fantastic piece from Anne Cassidy, about the importance of moral ambiguity in teenage and young adult fiction. 
Read on...

Why it’s important teenagers have access to morally ambiguous books, 
by Anne Cassidy.

One of the tough truths teenagers learn is that life is not black and white. For most young children things are simple. If you are good, good things will happen to you. If you are bad then you will be punished. During adolescence these certainties begin to fade and teenagers are left to muddle through this imperfect world where happy endings are not always on the menu.
As an ex-English teacher, I used to teach about the ‘grey areas’ of life through classic literature: in 'Of Mice and Men' they grapple with the fact that George killed the person he cared for the most. In 'To Kill A Mockingbird', they explore the meaning of justice and equality. Classic novels are a great place to start, but it’s not enough for teenagers to only deal with these grey areas in class. They must have plenty of books available to them in their personal reading choices that do the same. My book 'NO SHAME' gives readers something to spark thought and debate about the nature of sexual consent and rape. 

This subject is something very personal to me. I went to a girls’ catholic convent school, and spent a lot of time fantasizing about boys. However, there was no sex and consent education to speak off. ‘No boys, no problem’ I guess was the teachers’ attitudes. How wrong they were! I had a romantic notion taken from the films I’d seen: I would meet a boy and fall in love, get engaged and then wait a respectable year to get married. When I eventually got together with boys it was a terrible shock to find out that this wasn’t their aim. 

There were very few books for young people that talked about this back then (Judy Blume was yet to come). When I became a writer, I knew I wanted to write the books I never got to read as a teen. When I started writing for teenagers, I knew one thing: writing about sex was important, and it should be something everyone choses to do with the person they chose to do it with. My books 'No Virgin' and 'No Shame' deal with the all too frequent ‘grey area’ when it comes to sex. They tell the story of a girl who is raped. She isn’t dragged down a dark alleyway late at night, or drugged, or drunk. She meets a boy she likes, a boy she wants to have sex with even though she’s only known him for a day. She offers herself to him, tells him she’s not a virgin, that she has condoms. This emotional and physical honesty makes her a target for abuse and manipulation by the hands of a callous predator. This moral ambiguity was something I really wanted to explore, as hardly any experiences are black and white and life is a spectrum of grey. Parents may be uncomfortable with their kids reading about difficult issues like consent and rape, but my books are reflecting life as it is and not as they might wish it was.
There are many other great young adult novels that are equally provocative and morally ambiguous. I’d recommend starting with: 

'The Bunker Diary', by Kevin Brooks - a book that sparked a huge amount of controversy when it came out but deftly explores the idea of freedom and modern slavery. 

'The Knife That Killed Me', by Anthony McGowan – a searing thriller that uncovers the dangers of peer pressure and the ensuing violence. 

'Noughts and Crosses', by Malorie Blackman – one of the most morally ambiguous books out there, it explores racism, terrorism, rape and political activism in a way that is compelling and thought provoking. 

'All The Bright Places', by Jennifer Niven – mental health is a cornerstone issue for young people, and this book engages with suicide in a way that will leave you thinking long after you’ve finished it. 

'With Malice', by Eileen Cook – when you wake up with no memory, are you responsible for your actions? This is a chilling thriller that looks at a fatal accident and whether one girl should be held responsible. 

'The Hate U Give', by Angie Thomas - one of the most high-profile morally ambiguous issues of modern times is the killing of black young people by police officers, and this novel raises questions that need to be urgently thought about and addressed.
Morally ambiguous books help us grow as people, expand our minds and decide what kind of world we want to live in. Read widely, question everything and challenge the status quo.


I am currently running a giveaway for this fantastic book on my Twitter; RT and follow me before the 23rd for your chance to win 1 of 2 copies! 

There are still a few stops left on this blog tour! Have you caught them all yet? (lol, imagine if a blog tour was like Pokemon?!)
See the schedule below, and get reading...


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