But not the rape girl.
That’s who she is now. Rape Girl. Because everyone seems to think they know the truth about what happened with Adam that day, and they don’t think Valerie’s telling it.
Before, she had a best friend, a crush, and a close-knit family. After, she has a court case, a support group, and a house full of strangers.
The real truth is, nothing will ever be the same.
Rape Girl is the compelling story of a survivor who does the right thing and suffers for it. It is also the story of a young woman’s struggle to find the strength to fight back.
Rape Girl is a very short book. I breezed through it in a little more than thirty minutes, but what this book lacks in length and depth it more than makes up for in punch. I was hopping mad the entire time I was reading. Not mad at Klein or Valerie, but at her friends and the prinicipal of the school and anyone else who tried to say that Valerie “deserved” to be raped or was lying about her attack. Their unsympathetic and accustory behavior was sick and wrong and what the principal did was totally outside the legal rights of what an administrator can and should do. I was mad; I was horrified. Even more so because there is no doubt in my mind that the aggressive slut-shaming that went on in Rape Girl was realistic and completely true to life. And that hurt.
If you want to read a book that you’ll respond to on an emotional level, try Rape Girl. You would have to try not to get angry on Valerie’s behalf.
Klein’s prose and presentation of this story are very clinical and detached. I feel that this was a good choice. I was angry enough as it was without her getting emotional too; I think that in this case if both author and reader were as emotionally invested as I was, it would have been overkill. However, that detachedness did made characterization a little hard to accomplish well, and I woudn’t say that I ever got a good handle on who Valerie was as a person. But maybe that’s not important—it’s enough to look at what happened to her and understand that this situation happens every day. Maybe the “faceless victim” thing was intentional. Maybe if I’d gotten too invested in Valerie, what happened to her would be ten times worse for me as a reader, and I would now be a puddle of indignant and depressed woman instead of an on-soapbox book reviewer. I don’t know. I never got inside Valerie’s head, and while I was disappointed by that, I think this book is powerful enough as is.
Now the length and the pacing, I’m not as willing to let slide. I think this moved too fast, on the whole, and I would have liked it if this book was longer. If things were given more time to develop so that their full impact could be seen.
Uh, wow. This is a gut-clenching emotional ride of a book. I loved that. I’ve never been so put out on a character’s behalf before. Alina Klein has the skill to lay open a situation and, without making any authorial judgments of her own, leave you as the reader shocked and horrified. I do wish this had been a little more fleshed out, but if you’re okay with a book about controversial and uncomfortable subject that is unflinchingly portryed, read Rape Girl. It’s amazing and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
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.