Parachutes by Kelly Yang
Trigger Warning: Grooming, Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, Bullying
This has a Crazy Rich Asians/Gossip Girl vibe, and I was riding that gossip train and then the hits kept coming and they. did. not. let. up.
Definitely a book to read when thinking about girls, their bodies, and their rights, and how these rights vary due to socioeconomic and racial backgrounds.
We drive over to Denny’s. Mr. Connelly orders the all-day breakfast while I order a pastrami sandwich. “Thanks for having lunch with me,” he says, beaming. “I don’t always get the company of such a beautiful, talented young woman.”
I know he’s just saying that to be nice, but I’m flattered. I smile.
This book definitely brought up some memories. One of the main points of the book is the unprofessional actions of a teacher towards a student, and how the actions were handled by the administration because the student was poor and on a scholarship (juxtaposed harshly with the administrations prompt actions in favor of a much richer student).
The part that brought up memories was the predatory grooming of Mr. Connelly towards Dani. It’s so deliberate and so creepy and so…familiar. He starts off by making her feel special. Giving her a nickname (Thunder Girl is just…really?). Isolating her from her teammates and friends. Singling her out as something special because she has talent and is so mature for her age. Then he steps it up: recommending private lessons with him to fine-tune her debate skills. And she laps it up, because she views him as the father figure she never had. She views him as a father figure.
He ramps it up. Taking her to lunch after lessons. All the while never really crossing the boundary but toeing the line. Lowering his prey’s defenses so that he can use his position, charm and age as an advantage—with his status and privilege as a renowned teacher to protect them and threaten her into silence (along with the same of falling for it and being so dumb—I feel you Dani). Using her desire for a father figure, for acceptance, for praise to continually lure her in. And then when everything goes south, the rebuked/angry predator warps that singling out, isolating and turns it on his prey in another form of harassment entirely.
Claire has a different experience with men, but with a boy her age who had literally been denied nothing his entire life. He treats her like an object, acts like he’s 30 instead of 18, and purchases her with extravagant and unasked for items (think whatshisface buying Ana a new car, a new computer, new whatever all without her permission or desire to have these things), and then continually whisks her off and uses the transportation, isolation and social norms in an unfamiliar environment to control her.
Anywho, this was definitely a lot heavier than I was anticipating.
There was a lot more stuff going on: pyramid schemes, unethical business practices and corruption, exploitation of the poor and people of color (and to an extent the rich), the perpetuation of rich disaffectedness and inhumanity through their upbringing, the varying hierarchies of social standing within Asian societies, education, the shame of sexual assault society heaps on women, and much more.
There’s also a fantastic take on the ending of Titanic, which I. Was. There. For.
And of course it’s gotta be Rose who survives. God forbid we let the smart, scrappy poor die live and kill off the rich, beautiful idiot.”
There was room for two on that door, dammit.
It’s definitely well worth a read. Just don’t expect something as light and frothy as Gossip Girl.