Before And After

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My Rating: 4/5 Stars

When I finished LIE STILL, I realized how absolutely ignorant I was about rape and women and the lingering effects of the horrific ordeal that no amount of washing or scrubbing or therapy or counseling or friends and familial support can ever hope to take away. And that for the rest of Emily Page’s life she will remember vivid details of the assault and Pierce Martin like he was the grim reaper sent down just for her: the empty Domino’s pizza box, the cloying odor of his shampoo, her final thought before he entered her—that he’s not going to marry her—the fingernail that raked her leg and the scar it left behind, and the sting of the alcohol, as she attempted to clean up the last remnants of him. And that when he entered her a part of her soul tore away, and that now her life is divided into two periods: before and after.

Even though Pierce is an asshole, a controlling, abusive, manipulative, done-this-sort-of-thing-before asshole, who had planned the violation for weeks and probably fantasized about it for even longer than that, Emily still thinks the rape, in this case date rape, was her fault. Her humiliation and guilt clings to her like a virus. Even though it wasn’t her fault, she feels culpable in the horrific ordeal, flashing her virginity around like it somehow made her better. This novel refers to date rape as “the last frontier of crime,” because the victims look and feel guilty, while the rapist feels pleased because he painted the whole picture himself. I had no idea rape victims were viewed this way, and it saddens me deeply to realize this is the case. I only hope our society can somehow figure out a way to right this horrible wrong.

This novel shows Texas like it was truly meant to be shown with fake mansions the size of convention centers, where fake women and fake breasts and fake tans loom larger than the Georgia sun. Where a middle-aged former beauty queen packs pistols and assault rifles in the back of her Lexus and shoots out the zero of interstate signs at 65 MPH. Where the twists and turns prove more complicated than Texas’s geographical landscape and interstate highways and where high school never seems to end. And where Caroline Warwick has more secrets and more enemies than one would like to admit.

I’d like to end with the “legitimate rape” legacy left behind by a US representative that Julia Heaberlin brings up in her Author’s Note. She takes the higher ground by not mentioning this particular bastard by name, but I believe he should be called out once again for his comment. Representative Todd Akin said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” That shows ignorance on so many levels, and it scares the shit out of me that he was actually running our country for six terms. Akin didn’t get reelected in 2012, and rightfully so.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

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