Review: Rape Girl by Alina Klein
Author: Alina Klein
Publication Date: August 15, 2012
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Source: e-book provided by publisher from NetGalley (Thank You!)
Book Description from Goodreads:
Valerie always wanted to be the smart girl. The pretty girl. The popular girl.
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.
When I requested this book on NetGalley, I was in a different mindset than usual. It was right after a politician who shall not be named made the grievous error of telling people how the female reproductive systems works in cases of "legitimate rape" and watching the aftermath of it blowing up on the internet. So when I saw this book on NetGalley, I just knew I had to read it. It was a far departure from the usual fantasy/paranormal/science that I read, but I'm glad I gave it a chance. At only 126 pages, it's a short read, but Klein manages to explore the characters and situations in depth without turning an already difficult subject into a long arduous read.
The story begins with a confession, a confession that takes all the strength in the world to say. Valerie, after days of trying to bottle up the trauma of her rape, breaks down and tells her mom everything. The book isn't graphic about the rape. But the starkness in images that Klein paints in her words are more than enough to send chills down my spine. However, the consequences of reporting it to the police don't go quite the way Valerie hopes. In fact it completely backfires in her face. Soon she becomes the town pariah, with everyone whispering and glaring - thinking they know what really happened. So what's the truth? It all plays out in a series of flashbacks - Valerie reminiscing about the events leading up to the rape interspersed with the present and the proceedings she has to go through.
To me Valerie seemed to be your typical teenager. She's smart, she has a loving family, a best friend and a major crush on one of the most sought after guys in the school. But being a teenager - especially now a days, comes with a lot of pressure to fit in and be cool. It's difficult to fight peer pressure, so when an opportunity arises that leaves Valerie without parental supervision for the weekend - you can guess what happens - DRUNKEN UNDERAGE PARTY!
I loved the character of Valerie - she's definitely easy to relate to. She does make some really questionable decisions (what teenager doesn't?) but where she completely surprises me is in her will and strength. She goes through something terrible - and the darkness that follows is definitely to be expected. I'm so glad that while Klein acknowledges the difficulty in trying to deal with this - it's not something that drags on. Valerie picks herself up and trudges onward fiercely.
I kind of wish that Adam's name would have been left out of the book description especially since in the flashback where Valerie is taking us through the first few moments of the party (before it all goes downhill), she takes in all the people and names off all the males students currently in her home. This had me flinging suspicion left and right at who the perpetrator would be, but it was obvious as soon as Adam walked in.
In a small religious town Adam is that boy, the one who is strong, good looking, popular and who can absolutely do no wrong. So when news gets out that the town's golden boy might not be so perfect, all hell breaks loose. He gets scary, although his physical presence is minimal his influence is substantial. There were times where I was terrified for Valerie with all the fervor and mob mentality that he was stirring up. The accusations eventually get really heartbreaking, and some moments were just enraging.
Valerie's family was incredible above all else. Her mom is a pillar of strength in her calm and rational actions through such a difficult time. Her brother has the natural big brother reaction (to beat the guy to a bloody pulp) and her sister while she is still very young - understands that something horrible happened to her sister. While her family tries to be supportive, each one harbors a dark secret in connection to her rape that threatens to tear the whole family apart.
Rape Girl takes us to some very miserable places in high school drama/politics. But it's not all doom and gloom, there's sparks of hope in some very unassuming characters, which lends a tremendous amount of strength to moving forward for Valerie.
My only real complaint would be that the book might have been a bit too heavy with religion. I get that it's an important aspect of this town, but since I have no solid knowledge of certain aspects of some religions (like what Mormon missionaries do), so I felt a bit out of place there - but it wasn't a huge hindrance.
Overall: 4/5 Hot Cups of Tea!
This read was an emotional roller coaster, I was shocked one moment, terrified another, laughing, crying, raging - it goes on. It was an amazing experience. While the ending wasn't quite what I expected it left me with a very vivid picture and ultimately satisfied with how Valerie will go on.