Valerie was just being a normal sixteen-year-old, like all the other kids at her school. One weekend her mom went out of town. Naturally Valerie and best friend Mimi throw a party for their Mormon and non-practising Mormon friends (though neither girl believes in the faith themselves). It’s wild, loud and everyone is having fun. Val starts drinking due to her disappointment of her crush Adam not showing up, everyone’s having a great time why can’t she?
When Adam shows up, Val is ecstatic, and drunk. They excuse themselves in front of everyone and sneak off to the living room where she proceeds to throw up all over his shoes. Hung over and miserable the next morning, Val struggles to make breakfast for her six-year-old sister Ainsley. She just wants to lie on the couch and sleep off her headache. As she drifts off she realises she isn’t alone. Adam is suddenly there, everywhere. Confused over her feelings for Adam and what he has done, Val finds strength to report what’s happened. It’s only the beginning of her lifelong journey to be more than just the ‘rape girl’.
I requested this book because I wanted a different kind of YA to read. However, I was sorely disappointed but I am also conflicted with this novella. I think the premise of the book had a lot of potential, but the execution was poor. The story was rushed and there was no time to get to know Valerie, her likes, dislikes, or any kind of personality. Also, every male character except for the brother who’s away at college is written as a ‘villain’.
I understand that this is an important story to tell and that it’s also a very personal one for the author. For that Klein has done a stand out job for describing the process of standing up as a rape victim. Even as Valerie fights with her own demons she never steps down for doing the right thing. The few parts that are well written, you can tell that the author knows what she wants for her characters and what she wants to reflect to the reader. When writing about a tender subject, it can be a challenge to follow the delicate line. I praise Klein for tackling such a personal battle, but I wish that more time were spent on the narrative. Make it 300 pages and give us more in depth characters. I was always on Valerie’s side, but I knew there was more to her and I was sad to see that.
Many thanks to the publisher Namelos for providing this ARC on Net Galley!
Does sound like a fascinating concept. Especially with the religious context. Pity it sounds like it wasn’t executed so well, given that so many religions seem to place so much pressure on young devotees.