The Book of You

The Book of You: A Novel - Claire Kendal
I remember Mr Morden saying in his opening speech that what happened to Lottie was no fairy tale. But he was wrong. What happened to her was right out of the fairy tales.

This is not your usual thriller. This is not even your usual stalker story. No, The Book of You is more than that. While yes, it is a thriller, and yes, it is a story about stalking, that is not all it is. It is more than that.

Rape victims cannot be named. Even if they might also be murderers. What happened to me kept my name out of the press, but I don’t think you could have kept it out of your house.

Clarissa is a woman that's grown up knowing that she must be polite. Well behaved. To not cause a scene. She is. Even when Rafe, a work colleague begins to stalk her, she remains her usual self. Early in his stalking she learns that she must have hard evidence that he can and will hurt her. Otherwise the police can't help her since, technically, Rafe has not committed a crime yet. So this is what Clarissa sets out to do: collect evidence of his behavior. By writing in her journal, keeping items he sends her, and more. When Clarissa is called in for jury duty, she embraces it. It means seven weeks where Rafe can't disturb her. She's safe. Or so she believes.

The Book of You is not all about Clarissa, and it takes a while for that to come to light. The trial Clarissa is called into jury duty for is the one of a woman that has been kidnapped and raped. The reader follows the trial as well. We learn about how the different parts work to make the jury believe them. They provide facts. They accuse the victim for not being more careful, for not taking care of herself, and much, much more.

At the same time, Clarissa compares her case to the one she's listening to. What will they do with her facts and evidence? What can they accuse her of? How much evidence does she need? What about witnesses?

It's easy to find Clarissa to not be careful. To take unnecessary risks. I did it myself. Wondered why she didn't confine in a friend. Why she did what she did. Much like in the rape trial. That is what The Book of You is about. It's about the shaming of victims, intentionally and not, that society does. It can be small things, such as how Clarissa didn't confine in a friend. It's easy as a reader to wonder why she didn't do that, that it would help her case. By doing that the reader unintentionally places blame on the victim. Because really, is it Clarissa's fault she is being stalked?

‘The sun’s nearly gone. You’re not safe on your own in the park after dark,’ you say, and I can’t help but be amazed that there isn’t even a hint of irony in your voice.