18 Feb 2011

Review: "Rape: A Love Story" - Paradoxical

How can you call a book "Rape: a Love Story"? That was what I wondered when I first read about the book by Joyce Carol Oates and I knew that I had to get it. I needed to read it, needed to know what this what about.
When the book arrived, it was so much shorter than I expected but having read it, I can say that it contains a lot of plot and a lot of emotions. I was actually thankful that it was not longer because it was an emotional thing to read it.

The story is about Bethie and her mother Teena. Teena is a bit a of a wild women, she likes to party and she has boyfriends and she is beautiful. However, what happens that night can never be blamed on Teena. As she and her 12-year-old daugther is walking home from a 4th of July party, they take a shortcut through the park and their lives are changed forever. A group of drunken, high louts assault Teena, gangrape her while her young daughter is hiding, trying to block out the world.
Teena and Bethie survive but their spirits are chaged. Teena is no longer a happy woman who lives, she is a depressed ghost, constantly scared that the men will attack her again.
Then Officer Dromoor comes into their lives. Repulsed and horrified by what has been done to these two women and by the way society is turning on them - she brought it on herself! - he steps in to protect them. As a guardian angel, forever at the outskirt of their lives, he protects them and for Bethie he comes to embody the knight in shining armour. The saviour, the man who will protect them.

It is a heartwrenching book. It hurts to read it. What is so difficult about this book is that in one hour, a bunch of drunken idiots take away Bethie's childhood, her innocence and her mother. From that moment on she is no longer a child, she has been forced to face the ugliest side of adulthood and the mother she knows has disappeared.
This is a book that would be a great read for teenagers from 15 and up because it is so emotional and raw without being explicit. It is a well-written story about a topic that is almost impossible to approach - but Joyce Carol Oates does it to perfection.


  1. Intense. While the content is rough, I trust Oates to do it justice. She is a writing master. Lover her work.

  2. You are right BookGeek, she is the master and she does do the content justice, absolutely.