Title: No Virgin
Author: Anne Cassidy
Publisher: Hot Key Books
UK Release Date: 3rd November 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Trigger warning: sexual assault, rape.
From the author of the critically acclaimed, LOOKING FOR JJ, shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize in 2004 and the Carnegie Medal in 2005.
My name is Stacey Woods and I was raped.
Stacey is the victim of a terrible sexual attack. She does not feel able to go to the police, or talk about it to anybody other than her best friend, Patrice. Patrice, outraged, when she cannot persuade her to go to the police, encourages Stacey to write everything down. This is Stacey’s story.
A tautly told and important book, perfect for readers of Asking for It by Louise O’Neill.
I’ve read so many Anne Cassidy books over the years, and so when this book came out last November I was very keen to read it. I only just got around to it in more recent months, but when I did it really didn’t take long at all, as the book is less than 200 pages long, and so I raced through it in an afternoon. Although the overall message was good, I wasn’t massively impressed by the book.
The main topic of the book was rape, so as I wrote above, I would not recommend reading this book if you find the topics of rape and sexual assault triggering. There are a couple of YA books out there on this topic, such as All The Rage by Courtney Summers and Asking for It by Louise O’Neill. While I think it’s important that we have books out there that cover this topic to make it clear that rape is not okay and that victims should come forwards, I didn’t find this book quite as hard-hitting as the other two. Nonetheless, I’m glad that there’s another book which will hopefully educate its readers and raise awareness about the horrible things that can happen. The circumstances were also very different to the two books mentioned above, and personally I didn’t see what was coming until it happened, so it was impactful, and there is to some extent a breadth of content among the books available – showing how there are so many ways that rape can happen.
The next point that I wanted to make is somewhat difficult to phrase because it has to do with the ending and I don’t want to spoil anything. On the whole, this book was more about the rape itself than the consequences. Given the length of the book, there were always going to be limitations to what Anne Cassidy could cover in that space, and so the focus of the story is what happens to Stacey and how the rape comes about, rather than any legal procedures or closure for her. The ending was definitely powerful and it worked in terms of leaving an impact, but I was a little bit disappointed as personally I thought there were too many loose ends to wrap up at that point.
Something else I wanted to mention was the characters. Some of the characters I found believable given their actions, and I thought it was very impactful that the characters who seemed nice turned out to be nasty – it definitely sent a message about circumstances and not being able to predict who someone will turn out to be. However, I found Stacey to be an unrealistic character in that she was supposed to be the responsible one in her family, but then ran away from her family, and didn’t contact them or her best friend even when they were sending her concerned texts (this was before she met the threatening characters). I also thought her sister, Jodie, was very unrealistic in her characteristics as well.
Overall, I really wanted this book to be amazing, as I think it really had the potential to send a strong message about rape and sexual assault. However, while there are elements that were really powerful and enlightening, I don’t think it is quite as hard-hitting and impactful as other books like Asking for It.