Book Review: No Virgin (Anne Cassidy)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Pages: 192

Release Date: November 3rd 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

My name is Stacey Woods and I was raped.

Stacey is the victim of a terrible sexual attack. She does not feel able to go to the police, or talk about it to anybody other than her best friend, Patrice. Patrice, outraged, when she cannot persuade her to go to the police, encourages Stacey to write everything down. This is Stacey’s story.

Review:

I loved Looking for JJ and Finding Jennifer Jones by Anne Cassidy so I was excited to read something else from her.

This is a bit of an odd book. Straight away, Stacey tells us what happened to her: she was raped. We see a glimpse of the aftermath, before she goes back to the beginning and tells her story. Her best friend has told her to write it down, starting at the beginning and leaving nothing out. And it does read more like an account than a story at times: maybe a little cold, maybe a little simple, which might not be to everyone’s tastes, but I found it very effective.

This was a very short read but I felt connected to Stacey and really rooted for her as she struggled to come to terms with what had happened to her. The worst thing about it for me, but also the most accurate, was the way she blamed herself for it. She’s had sex before, she went back to a house with a basic stranger, she tried to initiate sec with him the night before: all these things she feels work towards her being to blame in some way for what happened to her. She’s afraid of what others will think if they know all the details. She’s ashamed.

This is such a common narrative in abuse in real life, and it’s so sad to read. It shouldn’t have to be said, but if you are raped or abused, you are not to blame, no matter what you were wearing or what you drank or how many people you’ve had sex with before. This book really hammered home the point for me. As Stacey tells her story, it doesn’t make me think she was asking for it or deserved it because she got herself into a silly situation. I only felt sympathy. The idea that no one would believe her, an average girl with divorced parents a teen-mother sister over some rich and well connected boy really angered me too.

Cassidy really gets into the mindset of the victim in this book. Although it doesn’t have as big an impact as other books might (Asking For It by Louise O’Neill springs to mind) it still gets under your skin and takes an unflinching look at rape victims and blame culture. It’s an important read, and I’d recommend you pick it up.

4

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