By Mariechen Puchert
CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Sixteen-year-old Valerie from Salt Lake City is a pretty average teenager. She swoons for the attractive boy in her class, she has a best friend she would kill for, and she likes shopping. She babysits her little sister, and when her mother is away for the weekend, she hosts the archetypal teenage house party.
But then Valeria is raped, and her decision to report the incident changes her life. Instead of support, Valerie is ousted by her peers. She becomes, simply, the “rape girl.” This is her story.
What makes Rape Girl one of its kind is that it is not merely the sad tale of a girl violated. It weaves together the intricacies of high school politics and teenage friendships. It addresses the relationship between the teenage victim and her mother, her siblings, her community. Valerie is a relatable character, not at all overtly morbid.
While it addresses a tender issue, the author does so with great sensitivity. As a teenager, Alina Klein was raped, which explains her approach to this novel. It is not overpoweringly dark, but does not downplay the magnitude of Valerie’s experience.
The novel is short and easy to read. One might perhaps have desired a more extensive story that delves into recovery and the author’s later life to facilitate closure for the reader, but this becomes a matter of personal opinion.
This novel is not in any way explicit and is unlikely to offend. At 126 pages, it is a quick and insightful read for audiences from high school age and upwards.