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.
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.
About the Author
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.
Bold, unsettling, and timely. . . . A reckoning with injustice. — Laurie Halse Anderson
Gorgeous, harrowing, heartbreaking. — Carmen Maria Machado
About violence and forgiveness, about friendship and the unwanted title of victim, about digging deeper and deeper to seek answers.
A cuttingly funny meta-meditation on her own pain in the context of #MeToo.
A remarkably nuanced account of the complicated and confusing emotions that surface when your rapist is someone you knew and trusted.
About how important it is to speak about these oft-silenced experiences that cause so many to feel ashamed, scared, and alone. — NPR
Perhaps the most important book of the season.
Thought-provoking, unmooring, and haunting.
Striking. . . . Creates a language for something we don’t talk about.
Heartfelt, painful, and essential.
A gripping read and true fodder for the necessary reckoning with toxic masculinity.
Vanasco immediately makes you wonder how we can take so much about sexual assault for granted.
Intrepid. . . . A work that has the potential to change the way we think and talk about rape and the people who commit it.
Sets the canon of #MeToo-era creative nonfiction on fire. . . . Inimitable.
An extraordinarily brave work of self- and cultural reflection.
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