Friday, 12 May 2017

Book Club Picks #6 No Virgin

 “My name is Stacey Woods and I was raped.”

After Stacey becomes a rape victim, she is reluctant to go to the police to press charges. Her best friend, Patrice, convinces Stacey to write down what happened to her, and tries to convince her that it wasn't her fault. However, Stacey would prefer to act as if it didn't happen, and forget about it. Will the knowledge that she may not have been her rapists first victim change her mind?

When this book was chosen as our November book club read, I was initially a little sceptical. Reading YA contemporary books about serious topics is always a little hit or miss with me, and writing a book about such a serious topic as rape means it needs to be executed perfectly. The book opens with Stacey informing the reader that she was raped, and that her best friend has told her that she should write down what happened to her. As Stacey is reluctant to talk about her ordeal, I thought this was a clever way for Stacey to tell her story.

The book is split into two parts. The first half focuses on the lead up to Stacey being raped, while the second half deals with the aftermath. Although this is a short book that could easily be read in one sitting, I felt as if the first half of the book dragged on for a little too long. I found Stacey to be quite whiny, as she made a big deal over little things such as her sister going into her room, and her best friend spending time with a different friend. The fact that Stacey left home at all seemed a little extreme, as although there are some small problems in her family, it is by no means a terrible family. It is clear that Stacey's family care about her, as they are constantly texting her to make sure she is safe, and I felt as if Stacey didn't appreciate them at all.

Stacey soon meets Harry Connaught, a boy who decides to strike up a conversation with her in a cafe. Although Harry initially seems like a sweet boy, there are little hints throughout the book that his sweet gestures may have a hidden meaning. Stacey is extremely naive, and accepts Harry's offers of expensive gifts and allowing her to speak to an acquaintance he knows who works in the fashion industry. I felt as if I would have been questioning Harry's intentions if I had been in Stacey's position, as although Harry is obviously wealthy, I found it strange how he was being so kind to a girl he had know for around eight hours. However, there were a couple of moments that completely threw me, and at several points I was expecting there to be a huge plot twist where Harry wasn't actually involved in the rape. I felt as if it was important to show that rapists come in all shapes and sizes, and just because someone seems sweet doesn't automatically mean that they have good intentions.

The warning signs started flashing for me when Harry invited Stacey to stay the night at his brothers friends apartment, and although I knew how this would end, I was willing Stacey to go back home instead. I felt as if Stacey was careless in not telling anyone where she was, and should have at least let Patrice know. Although the most important thing is of course to teach men not to rape, the sad truth is that women have to take precautions to try to avoid getting into a position where they become an easy target to a rapist.

The victim blaming that happened in this book was awful, and I was extremely angry at Stacey's rapist for the awful things he said to her. He was extremely manipulative, telling her that it had just been a misunderstanding, and even threatening her when he started to worry that she would go to the police. It was awful when Stacey started to believe that it had been a misunderstanding, and started to blame herself. We see victim blaming all the time, with rape victims getting asked questions such as what they were wearing and getting told that they were asking for it. No matter the circumstances, the victim should never be blamed, and I was g lad that Stacey finally came to terms with that.

One thing that I felt should have been included in this book was the aftermath of Stacey coming forward about what happened to her. Although there was a big build up to her rape, we never find out if Stacey decides to tell the police, or if the rapist gets away with it. I think it is important that rape victims come forward about what happened to them, and although Stacey does call a helpline, I would have loved for the book to have gone even further to the court case, and having Stacey's rapist sentenced. Rape is a terrible and unforgivable crime, and I would have loved to have seen the rapist brought to justice. Although I have read other books that deal with rape, I have never read one that goes on to legally charge the rapist.

Although rape is an upsetting topic, it is also an important one which should be talked about. I felt as if Anne Cassidy dealt with the topic perfectly, and although it wasn't really the ending I was hoping for, I was glad that Stacey was finally able to open up about what had happened to her, and realised that she wasn't to blame.

Edit: I only found out after writing this review that Anne Cassidy is writing a sequel to this book that actually takes on the court case! As I ranted about this quite a lot in my review, I just wanted to acknowledge this here. I will definitely be reading the sequel when it comes out!

No Virgin is now available to purchase!

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