What is this about?: Stacey was raped. This is the story of how it happened, of how she attempts to deal with it, as much as it can be dealt with. But, it’s hardly as simple as all that. This is about her self-doubt and her self-blame over the rape, and her conflicting emotions over other characters in the book that might have facilitated the rape, before she can come to terms with what happened.
What else is this about?: That’s it. It’s a short book, unflinching and that’s all it needs to be about.
Blurb: From the author of the critically acclaimed, LOOKING FOR JJ, shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize in 2004 and the Carnegie Medal in 2005.
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.
A tautly told and important book, perfect for readers of Asking for It by Louise O’Neill.
No Virgin is Stacey Woods’ diary, written in the stark prose of someone who is trying desperately to make sense of something so terrible, and writing all the ugly secrets she would never tell anyone out loud. It’s uncomplicated writing, but this isn’t a simple story.
She comes from a broken home, with a younger sister who has a young child and is very obviously frustrated with how her life has turned out — and taking it out on Stacey and their mother. Their mother is trying to play mediator between the two of them and failing. Stacey is also very afraid that she might be losing Patrice, her best friend and sanctuary from the chaos of her life, to someone else, a best-friend-in-waiting who has more in common with her than Stacey does.
The result is a powder keg of emotions and fighting and family tensions that lead to Stacey running away. She doesn’t answer their calls or their texts, not even from Patrice, which is when she meets Harry. Harry is everything Stacey thinks she would never get in her normal life, which is why she goes along with all his suggestions for the time they spend together. And why it is easy for him to invite the rapist to his apartment.
The thing about Stacey is that her story is familiar, readers may even see what happens coming a mile away, but Stacey doesn’t. Stacey wants something different for herself, she wants to escape her life and Harry provides that for a short time. Is it any surprise that she enjoyed his attention?
In the aftermath of the rape, Stacey tries to come to terms with what happened and struggles with the idea of reporting it. The book doesn’t shy away from that either, but it shows Stacey working through it and navigating her way through her self-blame and anger.
No Virgin is a stark, uncompromising look at rape, and the complicated circumstances around it that girls and women will find familiar, and might have even experienced.
Whatever the circumstances around a rape — whether a woman or man is in bed and changes their mind or not — no one asks to be raped.