Rape Girl By Alina Klein could have been so many things: it could have been depressing, it could have been unconvincing, it could have been hard to read. But it wasn’t any of those things. It was great. And not just a little bit great either.
Valerie’s story makes me mad, and it will probably make you mad too. If you are a teen girl, it will make you wiser. If you are a teen boy, well, consider yourself informed. And if you are a parent of either, this book will do both. This is the kind of story that chips away at taboo topics and makes the world a better place. Really. It’s that simple.
Valerie’s character makes me proud to be a girl. The courage and strength she summons will make any girl proud. Because what Valerie suffers during the rape is horrid, but what she suffers afterwards is a longer version of horrid. Bullied, ignored, blamed, Valerie becomes a shell of her former self. Almost. But then there’s that courage and strength and inner power ever present and ready to bloom in all of us that peeks out for a tiny look. It takes an undefined faith in the human heart to rise above a horror that a fellow human being has caused, and not everyone can or maybe should do it. But Valerie does. Valerie’s mom does. And after reading the author’s notes, you will know too that the author does as well.
Klein is a magical writer. This is her recipe: start with a pinch of John Green, sprinkle with a bit of Wally Lamb, punctuate with some Laurie Halse Anderson. Then cook on perfect pace and speak in dead-on dialogue until done. Cool. You’ve got the amazing Alina Klein. Trust me, you won’t be able to put your fork down.
From the beginning, this author does a very smart thing. Before the reader has a chance to condemn her for her behavior, she takes care of that herself. Never defensive about her poor choices, Jones instead makes it very clear that her biggest critic is herself, which immediately takes her readers off the hook. We don’t have to decide whether we like her or not, because she’s already told us that we don’t. And this gives us the freedom to read her story without judgment. (Almost.)
The author’s exploits are wild, dangerous, sometimes hilarious, and always expertly told. Jones is a master with words, able to at once use some pretty big language while keeping her writing conversational. Which makes us wonder: How can this well-educated and articulate person keep company with such low-lives? It isn’t drug addiction, because Jones never gets to that point. So what is it? The initial answer is good sex, but the ultimate one is the freedom to fail. Successful, responsible, and miserable, the author’s path to finding herself is to lose herself first and start from there.
This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and it does seem incredible that her husband allows her this very long leash without once confronting her, but this is a memoir so we have to take it at face value. Cup of tea or not, however, there is no arguing the fact that Jones is a very very good writer. She could probably spin a list of ingredients into a good read.
Dee DeTarsio told me all about the time she agreed to do a TV reality show called The Kitchen Shrink. This is what I thought the whole time I was reading her book. The thing is though, I’ve never met Dee and I’m pretty sure I’ve never talked to her on the phone unless she works at Verizon which I hope she doesn’t because they spend a lot of time redirecting phone calls. Anyway. After every time that I remembered I didn’t know Dee, my next thought was: Wow, her writing is good. She writes like she’s speaking to me and only me. That’s not an easy thing to do.
The Kitchen Shrink was a delight. I suspect (my friend) Dee works in the TV industry because there are insights here that only those on set could know. Which makes her book that much more fun to read. This is the perfect summer read. Thanks to (my friend) Dee for making me laugh on the trains, planes and automobiles that I took last week.