Jeannie details her friendship with a man named Mark before and after he raped her in college, 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.
... sets the canon of #MeToo-era creative nonfiction on fire ... This is a slow-burning, reverberating meditation on the nuances of morality, masculinity, and punishment ... messy, thoughtful, and illuminating ... With this publication, Vanasco investigates whether understanding one’s abuser can break the cycle of abuse. Inimitable.
This meta-commentary about the book itself is all over, making a reader feel like we're going through the process — of writing, of remembering, of approaching a deeply nuanced topic — in real time along with the author ... Even though Vanasco worries, in these pages, that some readers will be upset at how much of a voice she gives the rapist, I think all the other voices — hers, especially — overpower Mark. But he, of course, was granted the choice to consent.
... a thoughtful, conflicted, harrowing examination of what Mark did--with his words alongside her own ... aware of itself, frequently commenting on process and prospective readership. This kind of self-regard is difficult to pull off, but it is clearly Vanasco's natural style, and she wields it expertly ... Vanasco is very alert to the times, feeling prompted by #MeToo, Trump's presidency and her creative writing students' disclosures of sexual assaults. She is very alert, in general--it seems a personality trait--and one of the most intriguing artistic qualities of this book is its vigilant self-awareness ... Clearly this is an important and timely book. Even in a world that can seem brimming with stories similar to Vanasco's, hers stands out ... This narrator is tough, vulnerable and meticulous; the resulting memoir is heartfelt, painful and essential.