Saturday, 5 January 2013
Review: Rape Girl By Alina Klein
Rape Girl is a quick read, but it's by no means an easy one. That's pretty obvious from the provocative title. It says it all, really - this book is about a girl who is raped. Then again, it's about so much more than that. It's about the effects of rape on not just the victim but on family, friends and the community. It's about the way society treats those victims and their rapists - all too often blaming the former and forgiving the latter. It's about a screwed up justice system in which few victims feel they can report their rape, and those who do don't always get any actual justice. It's about the fact that when it's one person's word against another, people always doubt, and sadly see the innocent as somehow guilty and the guilty as innocent. It's about life and how sometimes, it really freaking sucks.
Rape is obviously a very sensitive issue and this book could have easily been exploitative, but Klein tackles the subject matter with sensitivity. It's not graphic at all, although it is confronting, as it probably should be. Klein's writing is simple, but it says so much. The characters and situations all feel incredibly real, and their reactions to those situations are authentic. At the beginning, sections are divided between "before" and "after", and it's very effective, contrasting ordinary teen Valerie with the "rape girl" she feels she has now become. I felt for Valerie; her sadness, her frustration and especially her anger were palpable and completely understandable.
My one gripe with Rape Girl is that it's way too short. While the writing is good, the brevity means I never fully connected with the characters or felt immersed in the story. Because it really only had space to deal with the rape and its aftermath, it never really went beyond being an "issue" book. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that - it's certainly an important issue to write about, learn about and talk about. It just means it didn't quite burrow under my skin and into my heart. If there was a bit more to the story I feel like it could have had a greater impact. Nevertheless, it's certainly worth a read.
Published: September 2012, Namelos
Source: I received a review copy from the publisher via Netgalley.
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