Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review: Rape Girl

Book Review.

Rape Girl
by Alina Klein.

I always find it hard to review books like this - how do you explain that you 'enjoyed' a book where the subject matter is so distasteful?

Rape Girl is about just that - 16 year old Valerie is raped by the boy she likes. But it's when she tells what happened that her troubles really begin.


There was a great sense of authenticity to the teenage viewpoint in this book. The party, the drinking, the bitchy girls in the bathroom, the all felt very 'now' and very realistic. Sadly, the rape itself and the way in which is occurred is all too realistic too.

I liked how the author handles the attack itself - it's not violent, there are no marks, no weapon, no stranger on a dark night. It's someone she knows, likes even, trusts. It's a really important message to girls out there - this is what rape looks like too - if you say NO that should be enough. I liked how that was covered again when Valerie joins the support group. There are no graphic descriptions of the act itself which I think worked well - the book focuses on what happens after, and how Valerie stays true to herself.

The way in which Valerie is treated after everyone finds out, the rallying around the perpetrator instead of the victim, the bullying, and the lack of justice make for a powerful social commentary. "Rape is the only crime where a victim has to prove her innocence" is a line that will stay with me forever.

This would make an excellent topic/ discussion piece for teenagers, boys and girls.

There are a couple of areas where I felt the book could have been strengthened. The first person narrative needed a more powerful emotional connect with the audience. While at times it was possible to make some conclusions about her emotions (body language) I would have liked to have seen more of Valerie's feeling and emotions within the text too. Lots of things happen to her, but we don't often get to see her emotional response to them. The only part of the entire book when I teared up a little is when her brother loses it. I should have been feeling that level of response to Valerie's emotions.

While this story is about Valerie's rape and the aftermath, it is also a story about strength, being true to yourself, and about what it means to be courageous. In a genre full of teenage insta-love and HEA it is refreshing to see an author be brave with important issues - both in the subject matter and in the title. I also really love the cover (seems a shallow comment to make, but covers are important too!)

It's a quick read, but one that will stay with me for a long time. A good book, that with some more emotional connect could have been a great book. 3.5 stars

With thanks to netgalley and namelos.

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