Tradition by Brendan Kiely is an important narrative which should be read and taken in by teenagers everywhere. I listened to the audiobook version of this, and absolutely loved it. The characters are brilliant, taking into account all areas of concern for all young females, from teenage to adulthood. Kiely understands how to write female characters and make male characters who are not complete idiots.
Tradition by Brendan Kiely follows Jules Devereaux and Jamie Baxter in refreshingly new roles; this is not their love story. Jamie has just started at Fulbrook Academy, where Jules has been a student for years. They meet and make friends, which is where it ends. The story then follows them on different paths; Jules as she tries to contend with being a ‘hardcore’ feminist in an institution stinking of white privilege and male dominance and Jamie on the road to figuring out his place as a poor student among these rich kids. This book includes sexual assault, rape and takes a serious look at rape culture in America.
Why I liked this book…
Tradition by Brendan Kiely is a good book because it puts multi-dimensional characters in interesting and diverse scenarios and lets them make their own decisions. James must battle between befriending and helping Jules without overpowering her message, becoming a feminist while playing on a school sports team and his relationship with a previous victim of sexual assault. His character goes through many things a typical teenage boy will go through, yet he comes out a better person and much less ignorant. His story is one which all men should take inspiration from, but sadly many won’t.
Jules, on the other hand, is also assaulted and puts up the feminist fight seemingly alone. Her friend, Eileen helps her less forcefully and is a pivotal part of Jules coming to terms with her assault. Jules’ journey is one which will empower women, yet is not in any way a fantasy. This story does not ignore rape and class culture in America; if anything, it takes them and puts them front and centre for the world to see. This is not a light narrative and Jules goes through a lot to become the strong woman she ends the book as.
Overall, I would recommend this to teenagers and parents of teenagers; everybody should be aware of what’s going on and how their reactions to things are really perceived. Support is so important to sexual assault survivors and I believe that this is a message which clearly needs relaying to many people. Thank you, Brendan for making light of these issues in a tasteful way to which many people can relate.