Synopses & Reviews
In this powerful memoir, philosopher Karyn L. Freedman travels back to a Paris night in 1990 when she was twenty-two and, in one violent hour, her life was changed forever by a brutal rape. One Hour in Paris
takes the reader on a harrowing yet inspirational journey through suffering and recovery both personal and global. We follow Freedman from an apartment in Paris to a French courtroom, then from a trauma center in Toronto to a rape clinic in Africa. At a time when as many as one in three women in the world have been victims of sexual assault and when many women are still ashamed to come forward, Freedmans book is a moving and essential look at how survivors cope and persevere.
At once deeply intimate and terrifyingly universal, One Hour in Paris weaves together Freedmans personal experience with the latest philosophical, neuroscientific, and psychological insights on what it means to live in a body that has been traumatized. Using her background as a philosopher, she looks at the history of psychological trauma and draws on recent theories of posttraumatic stress disorder and neuroplasticity to show how recovery from horrific experiences is possible. Through frank discussions of sex and intimacy, she explores the consequences of sexual violence for love and relationships, and she illustrates the steep personal cost of sexual violence and the obstacles faced by individual survivors in its aftermath. Freedmans book is an urgent call to face this fundamental social problem head-on, arguing that we cannot continue to ignore the fact that sexual violence against women is rooted in gender inequalities that exist worldwideand must be addressed.
One Hour in Paris is essential reading for survivors of sexual violence as well as an invaluable resource for therapists, mental health professionals, and family members and friends of victims.
Whether or not you'd go out of your way to read anything that might be classified as a rape memoir, give Alice Sebold your attention for her first five pages and you're in for the whole ride. Written in a fever of unapologetic self-discipline, Lucky
is just about everything you'd expect it not to be. There's no expedition in search of psychic wounds, no yanking at your sleeve to get your conscience into the picture. Sebold was only a college freshman in a beat-up sweater when her horrible assault occurred, and she was a virgin. Maybe if rape was classified as a form of torture it would be simpler to map out the parameters of the damage it causes. Right now, as Patricia Weaver Francisco, author of Telling
, has said, a lot of people think of it as a form of bad sex.
At first, Lucky seems to bounce you into a state of half-belief. The rape itself, narrated at the very beginning of the book, is so merciless it's nearly impossible to absorb. The man beat her and tore at her; the shriveled object in the courtroom evidence bag was so stiff and black like ruined leather that it was hard to tell it was her blood-soaked underwear. Once Sebold goes back to her bookish family to repair herself, her household becomes an odd but dramatically rich place to begin to heal. The first thing her father asks her when she gets back home is whether she'd like something to eat. "That would be nice," she says, "considering the only thing I've had in my mouth in the last twenty-four hours is a cracker and a cock."
The smart but not good-looking Alice (as she sees herself, wrongly on that last count) keeps a cool head as her family wavers, as she leaves them once more to return to school, as she helps catch her assailant. And then, in a wrenching moment that comes from out of nowhere, she has to keep from losing her mind when she faces the police lineup and fingers the wrong guy. How in the world is this ever going to work out?
Sebold credits teachers, including Tess Gallagher and Geoffrey Wolff, who surely had something to do with the making of a writer who can spit out a harrowing story that's still vibrating and flexible. Reading Sebold is like listening to Syd Straw singing about the worst thing that ever happened to her. Not that being funny doesn't help; Sebold can do that, too. But mainly, Lucky derives imaginative traction from its form and style, its continually expanding view. By the end, the mysteries of individuality that it conveys seem accessible only to the reluctantly brave. The book's acknowledgments conclude with some lovely, ardent thanks to Sebold's vulnerable mother. Because Lucky makes compassion a more personal, less automatic response, this gift to her mother seems light enough to carry and to keep. Sally Eckhoff, Salon.com
In a memoir hailed for its searing candor and wit, Alice Sebold reveals how her life was utterly transformed when, as an eighteen-year-old college freshman, she was brutally raped and beaten in a park near campus. What propels this chronicle of her recovery is Sebold's indomitable spirit-as she struggles for understanding ("After telling the hard facts to anyone, from lover to friend, I have changed in their eyes"); as her dazed family and friends sometimes bungle their efforts to provide comfort and support; and as, ultimately, she triumphs, managing through grit and coincidence to help secure her attacker's arrest and conviction. In a narrative by turns disturbing, thrilling, and inspiring, Alice Sebold illuminates the experience of trauma victims even as she imparts wisdom profoundly hard-won: "You save yourself or you remain unsaved."
Theo is better now.
Shes eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abductionand his abductor.
Donovan isnt talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didnt do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything shes been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.
Brandy Colbert dazzles in this heartbreaking yet hopeful debut novel about learning how to let go of even our most shameful secrets.
In her powerful memoir, philosopher and rape survivor Karyn Freedman travels back to one night in Paris in 1990, when she was 22 and when, in one violent hour, her life was changed forever. Freedman takes the reader with her on a harrowing yet inspirational journey through trauma and recovery – from a courtroom in Paris and a trauma resource center in Toronto to working with young women at a rape clinic in Africa. At once deeply intimate and bracingly universal, A Paris Night weaves together Freedman’s personal experience with her philosophical insights and her wide-ranging efforts to understand what it means to live in a body that has been traumatized. Drawing on recent theories of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and neuroplasticity, Karyn shows how recovery from traumatic experiences is possible. A Paris Night is written for survivors of sexual violence as well as for anyone who has lived through a traumatic experience, or knows someone who has. It is sure to become an invaluable resource for family members, educators and mental health professionals.
About the Author
Brandy Colbert was born and raised in Springfield, Missouri, and has worked as an editor for several national magazines. She lives and writes in Los Angeles. Pointe is her first novel.
Table of Contents
Prologue1. Paris, August 1, 19902. What Happened Next3. Live in It4. Africa, 20085. Paris, RevisitedAcknowledgmentsFurther Reading
Reading Group Guide
1. The man who raped Alice was by turns brutal, bullying, concerned, and contrite. Discuss Alice's responses to him in the course of the rape. Can you understand why, when the rapist demanded that she kiss him back, Alice obliged?
2. Alice mentions at one point that she and her sister were "raised in a house where my mother's problems provided the glue of family" (page 162). Discuss the Sebold household and the effect of Alice's rape on its various members. In what ways did Alice's family provide the support she needed in the aftermath of the rape?
3. "I was learning that no one -females included -knew what to do with a rape victim" (page 78). Discuss the diverse reactions of Alice's friends and classmates to her rape. In general, who was more sympathetic, more understanding, more com-passionate -the women or the men?
4. Discuss the significance of the clothing Alice wears at critical points in her story. For example, why did it matter that Alice was wearing a cardigan and oxford-cloth shirt when she was attacked? A loose blouse, old jeans, and no underwear on her first visit to the Public Safety Building? Nude hose (borrowed) at the grand jury hearing? A red, white, and blue outfit at the trial? Does it seem reasonable to you that people would judge a rape victim on the basis of her attire?
5. What role does race play in Alice's story? How might the rape and its aftermath have been different -for Alice, her family, and her friends -if the rapist had not been black?
6. How would you characterize Alice's relationship with her sister? What effect did Alice's rape have on their relationship? Do you think Alice and Mary were closer before the rape or after? Why?
7. Imagine yourself in Alice's shoes that October afternoon on Marshall Street in Syracuse -the day Alice found herself face to face with her attacker for the first time since the rape. Would your reaction have been different from Alice's? Since there was a police officer nearby, might you have approached him immediately?
8. "You could not be filled with hate and be beautiful" (page 101). Discuss "Conviction," the poem that Alice wrote in Tess Gallagher's workshop, and the reactions it elicited.
9. Discuss Alice's failure to identify Gregory Madison in the police lineup. Does it seem fair to you that he was able to enlist a lookalike friend to frighten and intimidate Alice? Is it fair that, as Alice's lawyer puts it, "Rights are weighted on the side of the defendant" (page 140)?
10. What role does Alice's virginity play in her story? If she had been sexually active before the rape, might recovery have been easier? At the trial, was Alice's virginity a factor in securing Gregory Madison's conviction?
11. Discuss Alice's response to Lila's rape. Why did the rape destroy their friendship?
12. "It is not just forcible intercourse; rape means to inhabit and destroy everything" (page 123). Discuss how this statement applies in Alice's own case.
13. If the members of your reading group have also read The Lovely Bones, try to identify elements of Alice Sebold's own story that resonate in her fiction.