by Chris Lynch
YA fiction. 165 pp.
I read this book at the suggestion of a very good friend. I don't remember why he recommended it, but I do remember thinking that the premise was interesting enough that I would give it a go, even if I have never been a fan of Lynch's writing.
Oh. Be forewarned that I'm going to spoil the plot.
From the flap copy:
Keir Sarafian may not know much, but he knows himself. And the one thing he knows about himself is that he is a good guy. A guy who's a devoted son and brother, a loyal friend, and a reliable teammate. And maybe most important of all, a guy who understands that when a girl says no, she means it. But that is not what Gigi Boudakian, childhood friend and Keir's lifelong love, says he is. What Gigi says he is seems impossible to Keir. . . . It is something inexcusable--the worst thing he can imagine, the very opposite of everything he wants to be.
As Keir recalls the events leading up to his fateful night with Gigi, he realizes that the way things look are definitely not the way they really are--and that it may be all too easy for a good guy to do something terribly wrong.
I thought this would be an interesting book in that you just don't get books told from the perspective of a date rapist, especially as he comes to a realization of what he has done and the serious impact of his action. Now, I'm not saying we need to feel extremely sympathetic toward this character--he is a rapist after all--but there needs to be some element of sympathy that the reader is supposed to feel for this character so that the reader actually wants to read the book and yearn for the character's redemption.
Keir is not that character. I hated him from the get-go. He's arrogant and a brute. He drinks far too much for a senior in high school, which his father does with him and lets him do. (In fact, which he does at a restaurant, and I can't quite figure out why the servers are giving him alcohol, but that's just me.) He is cold and indifferent. At one point in the novel, he significantly injures an opponent on the football field. He feels nothing for this because it was a by-the-book perfect hit that, after a week-long investigation, is determined to be an accident. But Keir feels no remorse. He hazes members of the soccer team. He vandalizes the town. He is not a good guy.
Keir's personality and character are such that I found myself unable to feel anything but contempt for him. So, because he's an unredeemable ape, I found myself unable to accept the claim that he was a good guy who would never rape his date. Unfortunately, the driving force of the novel requires you to believe this.
If this were my novel, I would have had a protagonist who was actually a good guy. If we are to see that even good guys are capable of doing terrible things, our character has to be a good guy. Then we can actually get into a discussion about the devastating effects of rape. This book doesn't do that.
However, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is just the sort of phenomenal novel that deals with the aftermath of rape (told through the perspective of the victim).