22 June 2010
Book Review: Denial
Author: Jessica Stern
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, Hogwarts Reading Challenge, Non-Fiction Five,
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
Reviewing a book about rape is difficult. Being raped is a woman's greatest fear and can be the source of a woman's greatest shame. How does a reader critically analyze a story so personal, so damaging, and so removed from her own life?
This separation between myself and the author was consistently apparent, and not just regarding the rape. The relationships Stern had with her family horrified me. While Stern acknowledges her father, her grandmother, and her grandfather's flaws, she continually professes love and respect for them. I, on the other hand, found them deplorable and had difficulty relating to the woman who forgave them their transgressions and idiosyncrasies. While Stern expresses disgust at the abuse of others - and their acceptance of it - it's as if she barely recognizes the abuse inflicted on her by her own family.
I will say, however, that this separation of reader and author/protagonist did not distract me from the story. Oddly enough, the absolute disparity between us is a large part of what kept me reading. I wanted to know her mind; try to puzzle out how she thought, how she justified and rationalized, how she coped.
While I struggled a bit with the first half of the book - I think in part due to my distance from Stern - I flew through the second half of the book. Perhaps it just took some time for me to be comfortable with a narrator I could not relate to and with the subject matter which is so painful in so many ways. This is not an easy story to read. There is so much violence, so much terror, and so much of it is mishandled by those involved.
This Book Around the Web
If I've missed your review, let me know!
TLC Book Tour Information and Schedule; at HarperCollins; Jessica Stern's webpage; Book Nook Club; Take Me Away;
Win a copy of the book at The Girl from the Ghetto;
Read the preface and a bit of Chapter 1 here.
Question: See paragraph 1....