Saturday, 25 February 2017

Review: No Virgin by Anna Cassidy

Publication Date: November 3rd 2016 
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Source: Received from publisher for review

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A raw, powerful, moving tale about a girl attempting to deal with the aftermath of a sexual attack.

My name is Stacey Woods and I was raped.

Stacey is the victim of a terrible sexual attack. She does not feel able to go to the police, or talk about it to anybody other than her best friend, Patrice. Patrice, outraged, when she cannot persuade her to go to the police, encourages Stacey to write everything down. This is Stacey's story.

 (*Trigger Warning for abuse, rape, sexual assault*)

Thank you to Hot Key Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a full honest review. 

I had been really looking forward to reading this but with exams and college, I knew I needed to read it in a time where I could just sit down and fully give my attention over to it until I had finished it. When I started the book I did not want to put it down and I tore through the pages of Stacey's story until the end. 

The book deals with a lot of issues such as family life, friendships, teenage emotions, infatuation and ultimately abuse and rape. I think it is obvious Cassidy has done her research into the topic and the story comes across as raw and painful to read. The build up to the attack happens in a way which makes you understand Stacey, her life, her ambitions, personality and dreams all come across from the story in such an authentic way that you feel yourself identifying with her. 

Stacey and Harry's relationship was hard to read because you were reading it with the dread of knowing what was about to happen to Stacey and you could even feel yourself being sucked into Harry's posh world of money and cars and his charming personality which drew Stacey deeper and deeper into him. 

Stacey and Patrice was a very well written friendship. I loved near the beginning of the book when Stacey was describing school with Patrice and little things they would do like braid each others hair and link arms etc and it was all very nostalgia triggering for me. I think they have a very supportive and healthy friendship which I really enjoyed reading about and I loved Patrice's character, she was very real and vivid. 

This book has received some comparison to Asking For It by Louise O'Neill, and where I do some comparison in that they deal with the same issues, they are also very different in the portrayal. Where Asking For It describes very vividly the exact details, No Virgin does not get as graphic. 

Another difference in No Virgin is that the attacker is a stranger to the victim. Although it did not happen in the way that I had thought it was going to occur in, I did not like about the book was that I felt it was in a small tiny way perpetuating the idea of the attack coming from a stranger to the victim, when a lot or rapes occur when the attacker is known to the victim. I am aware that attacks by strangers do happen but I think I would like to see more awareness in books/TV/media that show that it is not always a stranger in the night but can be someone known to you. 

I also felt that the book could have dealt more with the aftermath and the ending of the book could have been stretched to go on longer than the point of where it finished. Yet I can also see why the author chose to end it abruptly at that point. 

Overall I found the novel extremely emotional, you feel like you are there with Stacey as she goes through everything. The novel was gripping and powerfully portrayed the issue and will hopefully raise awareness and be read by not only teenagers but parents, teachers, adults etc., Cassidy has carried off writing about such an emotive and difficult subject with vividness and raw detail. Highly recommend the novel. 

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