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Young Adult Fiction Sexual Abuse)

So Much It Hurts

by (author) Monique Polak

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Sep 2013
Sexual Abuse), Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Theater & Musicals
Recommended Age
12 to 18
Recommended Grade
8 to 12
Recommended Reading age
12 to 18
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2013
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2013
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Iris is an aspiring actress, so when Mick, a well-known visiting Aussie director, takes an interest in her, she's flattered.

He's fourteen years older, attractive, smart, charming and sexy—in other words, nothing like her hapless ex-boyfriend, Tommy. But when Iris and Mick start a secret relationship, she soon witnesses Mick's darker side, and his temper frightens her. Before long, she becomes the target of his rage, but she makes endless excuses for him. Isolated and often in pain, Iris struggles to continue going to school, where she is preparing for her role as Ophelia. When her family and friends begin to realize that something is terribly wrong, Iris defends her man, but she also takes the first tentative steps toward self-preservation.

About the author



MONIQUE POLAK is the author of 26 novels for young readers, as well as two non-fiction titles and a board book. Her books Hate Mail, Room for One More, and the historical novel What World is Left, which was inspired by her mother’s experience during the Holocaust, were all winners of the Quebec Writers’ Federation Prize for Children’s and YA Literature.



Her books have also been nominated for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People and the Arthur Ellis Award, and several have been selected as Best Books for Children and Teens by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.



She is also a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Macleans, and Postmedia newspapers across the country, and is a columnist on ICI Radio-Canada’s Plus on est de fous, plus on lit! Monique lives in Montreal, Quebec, where she teaches English and Humanities at Marianopolis College.


Monique Polak's profile page


  • Commended, Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year

Editorial Reviews

"Readers familiar with Shakespeare's Hamlet will be intrigued by plot parallels, and other readers will simply enjoy the story. Polak dedicates the novel to 'all the young women who see themselves in Iris, and for the people who love them and want to know them better.'"

School Library Journal

“Provides a detailed anatomy of a young girl’s descent into the nightmare of an abusive relationship that is both accessible and thought provoking.”

Quill & Quire

"Portrays an unhealthy, violent relationship in a comprehensive and engaging way. The insight into the life of the victim seems very realistic. So Much it Hurts could be used as a great discussion starter, reflecting the horrors of abusive relationships and how to handle them...The dark drama is mesmerizing."

Teen Reviewer for VOYA

"Polak manages to take a difficult (and too often taboo) subject and makes it accessible and straightforward for young readers...Iris, her state of mind and her struggles will resonate with female readers of all ages...Polak has given a voice to Iris that...speaks to real and honest human experiences that are all to often dismissed through victim blaming, shaming or even acceptable as socially expected."

The (Mis)Adventures of MamaKujo Blog

"Readers will acknowledge Mick’s volatility long before Iris’s denial lifts, while recognizing how the desire to love and be loved can so easily turn self-defeating."

Publishers Weekly

"Nicely written about a difficult subject. Readers will empathize with Iris. Mick's aggressive behavior is amply, but not overly, portrayed. Iris's loneliness, after having given up her friends and lied to her mother, is real, as are the other characters in the story...So Much It Hurts sheds needed light on abusive relations."


"Polak gives her reader a glimpse into Iris’s mind and experiences, fostering empathy and further understanding."

Amy's Marathon of Books blog

"Parallels between Iris and Hamlet's Ophelia, a role she is playing in her high school's production, are telling, and Polak does a credible job portraying Iris as a smart girl who nevertheless finds herself submitting to increasingly vile behaviour...[The novel's] positive outcome should give heart to those who need it."


"The provocative, linear storyline, simple dialogue and textbook development of a typical abusive relationship make this an ideal title for teens who don’t consider themselves readers."

Kirkus Reviews

"The message is clear and relevant to teens."

Library Media Connection

"[Polak's] narrative voice for Iris is insightful and true to life, employing a tone that accurately captures the confusion, naïveté, and ambitions of your average teenage girl. The plot moves along at an appropriate pace, its gradual development giving the reader time to warm up to Iris and to build a connection with her and her experiences in a natural, fluid way...An interesting story and valuable lesson for all young adults, cautioning readers to remain informed regarding the dangers of abusive relationships."

CM Magazine

"Takes a very close look at abusive relationships...[and] illustrates to the reader how a person can very easily end up in a situation they cannot control...Polak has taken a topic [that] impacts so many students helped shed some understanding on how it can happen, even to the most sensible of people. Students who enjoy reality fiction as well as relationship fiction will enjoy this novel."

Resource Links

Other titles by Monique Polak