Sunday, November 14, 2010

Denial: A Memoir of Terror, by Jessica Stern

Denial: A Memoir of TerrorIn the early 1970's, rape was not thought of the same way as it is today, so when a teen aged Jessica and her younger sister were raped, the case was not handled all that well.  Very few people could believe that a stranger would rape children in the small town of Concord, Massachusetts.  As an adult, she works with the police to help solve the case, and try to find some personal resolution.

This is a very difficult review to write.  Books about topics like rape and child abuse are always troubling and disturbing, and it is hard to like a book like that.  However, that is not why I disliked this book.  I found the book incredibly disorganized, and somewhat boring, something I would not have anticipated.

As a way to deal with her trauma, Stern has learned to not feel.  She is so removed, emotionally, from the situation, and that blunted affect carries through to her writing.  She has researched and written noted works on terrorism, in a very removed and scholarly tone, and she uses a similar approach here.  But to hear someone flatly, coldly discussing their own childhood rape is really disconcerting, and uncomfortable to read.  Seeing the word memoir in the title made me anticipate a personal story.  I have never read such a desensitized, depersonalized version of a personal memoir.

I think for anyone who has been raped, or suffered a severe trauma, for anyone suffering from PTSD, this book is probably very helpful, and mirrors a lot of that they may be feeling.  However, for your average, everyday reader not having suffered this way, it just does not connect.

A touring review copy of this book was provided by Crazy Book Tours.