Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl: A Memoir (Hardcover)

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Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl: A Memoir (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


Things We Didn’t Talk When I Was a Girl is unlike any book that I’ve read, and I’d wager that it’s unlike any book that you’ve read either. This memoir is a project in motion, morphing and reconstructing itself as Vanasco works through the telling of her own narrative, the reader as witness. Vanasco’s project--to write a memoir about her rape that deliberately brings in the literal voice of her rapist--is something that no one could ever ask of a victim, but offers a perspective so brave and invaluable that I wish that I could personally thank Vanasco for this book. Vanasco’s approach to telling her story allows for an exploration of trauma and its aftermath in real-time. We are witness as Vanasco thinks through her own internalized misogyny, the ways both minute and large in which rape culture has persuaded and distorted the thinking of both rapist and victim, a conversation between two experiences of an event that adds such a deep level of nuance to this conversation that nearly every page of my copy is dog-eared. This book changed how I think about so many things--my own memories and experiences and consents (or not-consents), the ways in which I myself internalize or reinforce rape culture, and most importantly, the revolutionary act of reclaiming one’s own story, of insisting on believing survivors as they reclaim theirs. Read. This. Book.

— From Kelsey's Picks

A New York Times Editors’ Choice and Best Book of the Year at TIME, Esquire, Amazon, Kirkus, and Electric Literature


Jeannie Vanasco has had the same nightmare since she was a teenager. 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.


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.


Unflinching 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, push towards deeper understanding, and continue a necessary and long overdue conversation.



Jeannie Vanasco is the author of The Glass Eye: A Memoir (Tin House Books, 2017). Her work has appeared in The Believer, the New York Times Modern Love, Tin House, and elsewhere. She lives in Baltimore and is an assistant professor at Towson University. Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl is her second book.
Product Details ISBN: 9781947793453
ISBN-10: 1947793454
Publisher: Tin House Books
Publication Date: October 1st, 2019
Pages: 360
Language: English
Bold, unsettling, and timely. . . . A reckoning with injustice.
— Laurie Halse Anderson - TIME

Gorgeous, harrowing, heartbreaking.
— Carmen Maria Machado - Bustle

About violence and forgiveness, about friendship and the unwanted title of victim, about digging deeper and deeper to seek answers.
— The New York Times Book Review

A cuttingly funny meta-meditation on her own pain in the context of #MeToo.
— O, The Oprah Magazine

A remarkably nuanced account of the complicated and confusing emotions that surface when your rapist is someone you knew and trusted.
— The Cut

About how important it is to speak about these oft-silenced experiences that cause so many to feel ashamed, scared, and alone.
— NPR

A stunning work of meta nonfiction. . . . Vanasco’s narrative pushes far past the flattened media narrative of Me Too and asks uncomfortable questions about how to talk about rape culture, toxic masculinity and gender, justice, and resilience.
— Shondaland

Perhaps the most important book of the season.
— Esquire

Utterly brilliant.
— Book Riot

Thought-provoking, unmooring, and haunting.
— NYLON

Striking. . . . Creates a language for something we don’t talk about.
— The Paris Review

Heartfelt, painful, and essential.
— Shelf Awareness

A gripping read and true fodder for the necessary reckoning with toxic masculinity.
— BuzzFeed

Vanasco immediately makes you wonder how we can take so much about sexual assault for granted.
— The Times Literary Supplement

Intrepid. . . . A work that has the potential to change the way we think and talk about rape and the people who commit it.
— Bitch

Sets the canon of #MeToo-era creative nonfiction on fire. . . . Inimitable.
— Booklist, Starred Review

An extraordinarily brave work of self- and cultural reflection.
— Kirkus, Starred Review

Exactly the book we need right now. . . . I wish everyone in this country would read it.
— Melissa Febos, author of Abandon Me

Stunning.
— Angela Pelster, author of Limber

A literary feminist miracle.
— Sophia Shalmiyev, author of Mother Winter

Brilliant.
— Megan Stielstra, author of The Wrong Way to Save Your Life

Vanasco is a formidable talent.
— Daniel Gumbiner, author of The Boatbuilder

An essential, unforgettable work.
— Erik Anderson, author of Flutter Point

There is so much power in these pages.
— Elissa Washuta, author of My Body is a Book of Rules

Interrogates the terms of betrayal and the limits of redemption.
— Tim Taranto, author of Ars Botanica

A rigorous and nuanced investigation.
— Lisa Locascio, author of Open Me

Wickedly clever and powerful.
— Krystal A. Sital, author of Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad

Cuts through the silence of deep betrayal.
— Amy Jo Burns, author of Shiner

Astonishingly fierce.
— Emily Geminder, author of Dead Girls and Other Stories

Explores the common experience of rape with uncommon nuance and intense tenderness.
— YZ Chin, author of Though I Get Home