Review: Rape: A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates

Rape: A Love Story (Otto Penzler Books) - Joyce Carol Oates

Am I allowed to say I love this while I honestly hate it?

I hate everything it shows. I hate more or less every single event in it. I hate how degenerated some characters become. I hate how much this book is needed.

I absolutely hate that this behavior is found in our reality.

Something else?

I love this book. 

Most of all, I like the humanizing of the events. Oates pulls the story of a gang-rape and its aftermath off, however this is possible when this is such an unspeakable crime. For over a day I've been trying to understand why I can even remotely like this book when I was disgusted while reading it. And now I understand. Because I will hate every event if I re-read this, but I will simultaneously feel the honesty in every word. Feel this brutal truth seep through the pages of a mother who's free will is taken away, and the story of a daughter who lives in the aftermath of the abuse done to her mother.

I do not love this book because it's a sweet story, or has a happy ending, or anything like this. I love it because it's the truth. No sugarcoating. No glitter at the edges. No soothing words. It's the truth. It's reality. It's what people must understand is happening to victims of rape in any form. I love it because of this brutal honesty that few authors can pull off. I love it because some authors are ready to show this crime. I love it because it says what needs to be said.

Just as the reasons for my adoration for the author writing this story, I hate that it needs to be written.

The title Rape: A Love Story is both accurate and not. This is not a book for those looking for romance for none of this exists within these pages. The love is between child and mother. Of struggling through the world when it turns against you with your family standing next to you. It's about doing what you have to do to survive, make it through. 

Despite the title, I love this. As I said, I love how the author puts an honest, brutal, humanized presentation on the subject. But I will hate the story all the same. I love the book, not the story.