Once you get past the first 25 pages and get your bearings you aren’t going to want to stop reading this book. It really puts your emotions through the wringer and with this story I think it is incredibly important. As someone who has very difficult and tricky relationships with men, this book felt somewhat relatable. In so many ways I felt like I could relate to what Vanessa was feeling.
Being in a sexually abusive relationship at any age is horrible, but at 15 it is just unimaginable. There are so many times in this book what I just want to drive over to Strane’s house and punch him in the face. There are also times where I want to be there for Vanessa, let her know that she is lovely and so loved, and doesn’t need him to make her feel that way. So often I think about how Vanessa’s parents treated her as well, not giving her much love, and her feeling so alone. Once someone finally paid attention to her she was too scared to lose it. Often there were moments when I thought she would finally leave him, tell someone and get the truth out there, but she couldn’t. She was terrified of what she thought would happen, and of disappointing him. She lived to make him happy and it is incredibly heartbreaking.
I think this is a book that every person needs to read. So many people feel like Vanessa does, and it makes me want to cry knowing that there are people out there that feel helpless, like this is something that they have to do or that they can’t get out of the situations. I wish Vanessa had someone she felt ok with to talk to. Even her own college professor, someone she confided in after so many years of keeping this a secret, used his power against her. Everywhere she looked she was alone. He was the only thing constant in her life, but also the one thing that never should have been there.
I remember being 14 and thinking that I was so in love with my older boyfriend, and like Vanessa, I would do anything he asked me to because I didn’t want to disappoint him. I wanted him to shower me in attention and to feel special. This went on for a few months before my parents finally stepped in and ended things. I found myself always looking him up, reaching out and trying to get his attention again. I was addicted to him, even though I knew it wasn’t good. I never understood what kind of hold he had on me, why I couldn’t get over it. Once I finally turned 18 I reached out again, telling him the good news. When we finally met up after those years apart things had changed, I didn’t understand why I ever liked him. I was so upset with myself; that I let myself think I loved him, that I worshiped him and everything he did, that I ever let him get close to me. I hated that my first love for someone was with an older guy who should have known better. But the whole thrill for the two of us was that he was older, and I was like the forbidden fruit. Kids in school always gave us shit for what was going on, telling us it wasn’t allowed and how slutty I was for wanting to be with him. Looking back on it all, I just wish it never happened. I think it hugely impacted future relationships with men and sex. You never think something so small like that would affect your life so much but it does, and like Vanessa, I felt ruined.
But here I am still, showing up, educating, and learning. Some days I am hardly surviving, and others are better. I know it wasn’t my fault though, and I never blamed him either. We were both very young, I just wish people were educated more on sexual abuse and underage relationships. You have no idea how it will affect your life.
Everyone, please read this book. You might love it, you might hate it, but it will maybe give some people an insight on these type of relationships, and how the people affected feel.