Poignant and chilling by turns, The Opposite of Innocent is award-winning author Sonya Sones’s most gripping novel in verse yet. It’s the story of a girl named Lily, who’s been crushing on a man named Luke, a friend of her parents, ever since she can remember. Luke has been away for two endless years, but he’s finally returning today. Lily was only twelve when he left. But now, at fourteen, she feels transformed. She can’t wait to see how Luke will react when he sees the new her. And when her mother tells her that Luke will be staying with them for a while, in the bedroom right next to hers, her heart nearly stops. Having Luke back is better than Lily could have ever dreamed. His lingering looks set Lily on fire. Is she just imagining them? But then, when they’re alone, he kisses her. Then he kisses her again. Lily’s friends think anyone his age who wants to be with a fourteen-year-old must be really messed up. Maybe even dangerous. But Luke would never do anything to hurt her...would he? In this powerful tale of a terrifying leap into young adulthood, readers will accompany Lily on her harrowing journey from hopelessness to hope.
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The story starts off pleasantly enough, with Lily crushing on an older man - her dad's best friend who is fifteen years her senior, Luke. He is kind and sweet to her, making her fourteen-year-old self feel like she is the most important person in the world. The fact that he is staying with her family - including her parents and her younger sister - thrills Lily to no end, and she can't believe her luck that he is in the room directly adjacent to hers.
When Lily gets a taste of what she has always wanted - a kiss from Luke - her world becomes upended, and she feels that life is finally fulfilling the only dream she's ever known. Little does she know what she's in for, as Luke's manipulative and endearing qualities work hand in hand to cripple Lily's belief in love, and even kindness.
Lily finds herself incapable of sharing her troubles with anyone, which is so true of the world today when people find ways to manipulate others to fulfill their own desires. Luke is the perfect portrait of a terrible guy wrapped up in a nice-looking and overall nice-seeming package. His generosity and friendliness make him the least suspicious person, but his true nature causes Lily catastrophic mental anguish.
Despite the fact that the conclusion is somewhat open-ended, the fact that Sonya Sones can write such beautiful and compelling verse, yet shed light on such heinous topics, is incredibly motivational for readers and writers alike. Anyone who enjoys contemporary romances, thrillers, novels-in-verse, or coming of age stories should rush to pick this up. It will grab readers and not let them go, all the while encouraging important discourse about topics that are too sadly prevalent in this day and age.