Jeannie Vanasco's Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl is one of the bravest, most honest, and most unusual memoirs I've read. Vanasco's decision to confront her college rapist, who was at the time a close friend, is extraordinary enough, but her narrative voice — her lyricism throughout her interrogation of her motivations and thought processes, as well as "Mark's" and their shared history — makes this a riveting reading experience, and an incredibly important work. Recommended By Jill O., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"It’s hard to overstate the importance of this gorgeous, harrowing, heartbreaking book, which tackles sexual violence and its aftermath while also articulating the singular pain of knowing ― or loving, or caring for, or having a history with ― one’s rapist. Vanasco is whip-smart and tender, open and ruthless; she is the perfect guide through the minefield of her trauma, and ours." Carmen Maria Machado in Bustle
A Most Anticipated Book of Fall at Time, NYLON, Bustle, Pacific Standard, The Millions, Publishers Weekly, Chicago Tribune and more!
Jeannie Vanasco has had the same nightmare since she was a teenager. She startles awake, saying his name. 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. "It's the least I can do," he says.
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. She examines the language surrounding sexual assault and pushes against its confines, contributing to and deepening the #MeToo discussion.
Exacting 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 and interrogate our biases. Jeannie Vanasco examines and dismantles long-held myths of victimhood, discovering grace and power in this genre-bending investigation into the trauma of sexual violence.
"Thought-provoking, unmooring, and haunting." Nylon
"This is a slow-burning, reverberating meditation on the nuances of morality, masculinity, and punishment." Booklist (Starred Review)
"...Vanasco invites her readers to understand the complicated humanity involved in both causing and experiencing harm, leaving the limits and possibilities of accountability and healing as urgent, open questions. An extraordinarily brave work of self- and cultural reflection." Kirkus Reviews
"Vanasco performs a literary feminist miracle for all women who have been denied basic rights, been suspect, been labeled, been unbelievable after their rapes and assaults, and shines our collective shame outwardly, to ask a man why a choice to abuse is made." Sophia Shalmiyev, author of MOTHER WINTER
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.