One of the truest, most tragic lines in "Rape Girl" says that a rape victim is the only crime victim who has to prove her innocence.
My friend (and Chief Book Maven) Kelly ended her review by saying, "This is not light reading or in any way fun."
Teenaged Valerie lives in a small Utah town with her widowed mom and kid sister, Ainsley. Her elder brother Sam is off at college.
One weekend, Val's mom went out of town for a workshop. Sam was unavailable to come down and "babysit" his sisters, so Valerie was left in control of the house.
As high school kids are wont to do when left without adult supervision, Valerie and her best friend, Mimi, threw a party. There were mini-kegs and cocktails, and teenaged boys and girls, which naturally leads to making-out, etc.
Valerie had a crush on a jock named Adam. By the time Adam got to the party, Valerie was already drunk. When she and Adam went into the den for some privacy, she fell down and passed out, throwing up on Adam's Nikes as she did so. She awakened the next day, showered, threw up some more, etc, and fed her sister. Ainsley went next door to play, and Valerie went to sleep.
She awoke to find her yoga pants had been pulled off, and her tank top was up around her armpits. There was Adam atop her, holding her down, raping her.
What happens next is a no-brainer, right? She goes to the police, who believe a crime has been committed, then arrest Adam the rapist, put him in jail. The case goes to trial. Adam is convicted, and sent off to prison for a few years. Valerie returns to school, where her friends and teachers are horrified that Valerie was raped. They support her and reassure her, nobody more than her BFF, Mimi.
Now take that paragraph, and reverse everything. The police go through the motions, but don't seem to believe Valerie was raped. The prosecutor basically says, "Meh. It's going to be your word against his." At school, nearly all of Valerie's friends--especially Mimi--are convinced she's lying, and that she's fabricating "this whole rape thing" just to hurt Adam and make herself more popular. At one point, a couple dozen or so of these nice Mormon boys come in and tell The Principal that they, too, have had sex with Valerie. The prosecutor refuses to take the case to trial, because of lack of evidence. Eventually, The Principal actually makes Valerie sit down in a room with Adam, because Adam wants it.
The positive elements in "Rape Girl"--and there are some--include Valerie making some true friends, and her family going through hell, but emerging far stronger (like tempered steel) on the other side.
I've dated two women who were raped--at least, these are the only two where it came up during our conversations. One was date-raped a few years before we met; the other was raped after we stopped seeing each other. The absolutely sick, horrible truth is that life was easier for the one who didn't tell anyone. The one who was raped after our relationship ended filed charges against the bastard who raped her. She had to move out of her neighborhood. In essence, SHE was put on trial, trying to get the police to believe she'd been raped. Even at her job, it somehow got out, and people talked non-stop behind her back.
The adjective hasn't been invented yet to express how fucking wrong this is.
That is why I got this book after reading Kelly's review: it's because this fiction is so horribly true.
This is a great book, beautifully written. The author draws from her own experiences as a survivor. This book saddened, angered, and uplifted me, all in a very short period of time. Nobody should have to go through this. Ever. Not Valerie; not my two friends.
Whether you're a high school jock in Utah, a dirtbag in Florida, or any other male anywhere, get this straight: No means no. Even for you, stud.