Trigger Warnings: Rape, Sexual Assault
Just like with topics about mental health, books like this are important and they’re needed. For those of us who don’t and will never understand what victims of rape or sexual assault go through, books like this help shed a little light into what they go through and they teach us to listen.
And so with that, let’s talk about the book at hand.
What could’ve a very well executed book, turned into a story that felt like it had so many things going on that it took from what was supposed to be the main topic. Throughout various points in the story it felt like the author was trying to tackle as many topics as possible and it just got to a point where I genuinely forgot for a good minute that the book revolved around rape and sexual assault.
Maybe part of the problem is that upon reading the synopsis I got the impression that the focus was going to be about Mara, our main character, and her brother who is accussed by her friend Hannah of rape and how she now has to make a difficult decision regarding who she supports in the aftermath of such a horrible and disgusting thing. What I got instead was a breakup that wasn’t wanted by either person and that though it revolved around a past sexual assault situation, felt more like it either didn’t belong in the story or should’ve been the sole focus in the book.
There was so much jumping between things that I lost track of what the plot point was. The characters too lacked any depth and quite frankly (and I know this is going to sound horrible) I felt nothing for any of these characters. Absolutely nothing. Books like this should elicit an emotional response from its reader, but I was left sitting there like I hadn’t just read a book about these topics.
Another problem was that it often felt like the author spent more time trying to say stuff that sounded deep or inspirational than spending more time on the structure of the story and its characters. I don’t know how many times towards the end I thought the book was over because the chapters kept ending in ways that sounded like those heavy, emotional, “I’ve had an epiphany” kind of ways. It got tiring and by the time I got to the last chapter I was over it honestly.
Not all was bad. This book did an incredibly great job at being diverse and inclusive and for that it deserves merit. It truly was the one aspect of the book that I loved and enjoyed throughout.
Overall though I thought this was a book that often strayed and so with a great deal of disappointment, I give it a 2 star rating.
If you’re looking to read a book about rape I’d recommend Asking For It by Louise O’Neill. It not only challenges the reader with a main character who’s, for lack of a better word, a complete asshole and unlikeable, but also delves deep into the aftermath of such a traumatic event and the struggles that the main character now faces as a victim. Both with her own family and those outside it. It’s emotional, it’s heartwrenching, it’s raw. It will make you cry and it will make you angry. And that’s exactly how a book like that should make you feel.