Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl: A Memoir

December 15, 2019 - Comment

“Such a confrontation is bold, unsettling and timely. (Vanasco) wanted to find out how a person who hurts others talks to himself about his actions. If we are ever going to reduce sexual violence, it’s a critically important question.” ―Laurie Halse Anderson in TIME “It’s hard to overstate the importance of this gorgeous, harrowing, heartbreaking

“Such a confrontation is bold, unsettling and timely. (Vanasco) wanted to find out how a person who hurts others talks to himself about his actions. If we are ever going to reduce sexual violence, it’s a critically important question.” ―Laurie Halse Anderson in TIME

“It’s hard to overstate the importance of this gorgeous, harrowing, heartbreaking book . . . Vanasco is whip-smart and tender, open and ruthless; she is the perfect guide through the minefield of her trauma, and ours.” ―Carmen Maria Machado in Bustle

A Most Anticipated Book of Fall at Time, NYLON, Bustle, Pacific Standard, The Millions, Publishers Weekly, Chicago Tribune and more!

Jeannie Vanasco has had the same nightmare since she was a teenager. She startles awake, saying his name. It is always about him: one of her closest high school friends, a boy named Mark. A boy who raped her.

When her nightmares worsen, Jeannie decides―after fourteen years of silence―to reach out to Mark. He agrees to talk on the record and meet in person. “It’s the least I can do,” he says.

Jeannie details her friendship with Mark before and after the assault, asking the brave and urgent question: Is it possible for a good person to commit a terrible act? Jeannie interviews Mark, exploring how rape has impacted his life as well as her own. She examines the language surrounding sexual assault and pushes against its confines, contributing to and deepening the #MeToo discussion.

Exacting and courageous, Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl is part memoir, part true crime record, and part testament to the strength of female friendships―a recounting and reckoning that will inspire us to ask harder questions and interrogate our biases. Jeannie Vanasco examines and dismantles long-held myths of victimhood, discovering grace and power in this genre-bending investigation into the trauma of sexual violence.

An Amazon Best Book of October 2019: Jeannie Vanasco will be the first to admit that what happened to her is not uncommon. Another sexual assault statistic, she remained silent for fourteen years before doing something rather extraordinary, and that is where her story takes a rare and profound turn: Vanasco reached out to her rapist, once a long-time friend, and he not only admitted what he’d done, he apologized. Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl chronicles this reckoning, and in doing so adds a different dimension to the #MeToo conversation—one more intimate, insidious, and full of improbable grace. There will be much debate about Vanasco’s decision to give her abuser this platform, something she openly struggles with in the pages of this powerful memoir. But if the root causes of sexual violence are not confronted, particularly from a perpetrator’s point of view, it will continue. One other fascinating element of Vanasco’s provocative, but cathartic account, is the interrogation of femininity itself, and how, for many women, the impulse to placate and praise puts them in vulnerable positions. With Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl Vanasco regains some of the power that she lost. Read it; talk about it. –Erin Kodicek, Amazon Book Review

Comments

Anonymous says:

Very Problematic “Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl: A Memoir” by Jeannie Vanasco are the shared memories of the author of the time when she was in her late teens and was raped by her best friend. She never confronted him, never reported him to the authorities, fell out of touch with him and her close friends at the time, and sixteen years later decides to open a dialogue with him, first by e-mail, and finally in person, to discuss what this assault has meant to her, and to him.I am…

Anonymous says:

A tangled mess with no resolve and intention to move forward in a healthy direction. Writing style is jagged and drags on. Nothing insightful gained from reading this memoir. The author is stuck in herself and can’t move forward. Her investigation into trying to understand why her friend raped her only seemed to be beneficial for the rapist to not feel so bad about what he did. What a shame……no resolve at all.😑

Anonymous says:

Brave, but Felt Like Someone’s Notes on a Project First: brave topic and approach. However, the execution is flawed. Most obvious: nothing in this book implies a list of things that weren’t taught to the author as a girl. Nothing was mentioned in anyway, so the title just…doesn’t make any sense. My biggest problem is that it’s basically the story of her process interviewing the friend that assaulted her and putting it into a book, not the book itself. It feels like a long, drawn-out, repetitive Q&A with herself. She transcribes the…

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