Valerie is the type of character I enjoy reading about. Her reactions are strikingly realistic, with her utter disbelief over her best friend's accusations that she was blowing things out of proportion, and her pure indignation that her principal would single her out as the guilty party by forcing her to have a private tutor soas not to further disrupt her attacker's life. I was literally shaking in rage when her principal informed her that she would be sitting down and speaking with her attacker, Adam, as he felt Adam deserved to say his piece. If I could have reached through my Kindle into Valerie's fictional world, I would have strangled him for being so blatantly cruel.
I do wish Rape Girl had been slightly longer so I could get better acquainted with Valerie. I read with an almost detached interest for the first half of the book, because I didn't know anything about her other then the fact that she was Rape Girl. And if it was hard to become attached to Valerie, it was impossible to feel much for any of the supporting characters. I was angry with Mimi for deserting Valerie, but it was more an anger based on principal - who deserts their best friend in their greatest time of need? I would have felt Valerie's hurt over Mimi's betrayal deeper if I had a better understanding of their friendship.
Showing how a mentality can perpetuate a stigma, Valeria is victimized throughout Rape Girl as her community acts as though she was in the wrong for damaging Adam's reputation; for ruining his chances of going on a mission as part of his religion. With the amount of victim blaming, I'm surprised my Kindle made it out alive. I had to put it down at one point, for fear of cracking the screen from the force with which I held it. I could have kissed Ms. Gimli when she acknowledged that rape is the one offence where the victim is forced to prove their innocence and so it was with a sense of pride that I watched Valerie grow into a strong, young woman who realized that her act of saying "no" was enough to make Adam's actions wrong. That even though he didn't threaten her, that even though she didn't fight back (for fear of alerting and traumatizing her younger sister), he was wrong to have forced himself upon her - even if the night before she had acted like it was something she wanted. It was empowering to watch Valerie understand that nothing she did could excuse his behaviour once she made it clear it was not consensual.
Though Rape Girl is not an easy read, it is something that should be read. I was surprised with how deeply I felt for Valerie - devastation for the loss of both her innocence and feelings of safety, fear for the cost of her bravery, anger for her principal's casual dismissal of her concerns and hope for the life she will lead now that she has the friends, family and inner-strength to handle anything thrown across her path.