I can’t honestly say that I enjoyed this book. It was difficult to read. Both the content and style of writing contributed. Firstly, much of the story was told in the second person. In my experience, this narrative perspective is seldom used and I have found it to be jarring and voyeuristic.
On the surface, this was a story about obsession, abuse and the failure of society to recognize and respond. The story focuses on Clarissa and her stalker, Rafe. Unlike other portrayals of stalkers, Rafe is not a small slimy man content to live in the shadows. He is a large presence and a near constant companion. The continual interactions are uncomfortable as I imagine they were meant to be. You will be upset by the lack of options available to Clarissa and the by the actions and reactions of the characters.
I imagine that the majority of readers found themselves telling Clarissa that she should be more proactive, she should talk to someone or lamenting was you think is a lack of self preservation. I found I was doing this right from the start but it soon felt that I was meant to question my own reactions. It was very easy to blame Clarissa for her action and inaction. It was easy to shift or share the blame for the bad actions of the stalker.
In my professional life, I have dealt with a wide variety of individuals who have been subjected to and have subjected others to abuse. I am continually surprised by the attitudes of those outside the situation. Despite condemning the actions of the abuser there remains tendency to place blame on the victim. There are few things move disempowering to a victim and empowering to an abuser than blaming the victim. While you would expect that a person take steps of self protection, society, as explored in this novel, leaves the victim lacking confidence the she will receive protection and leaves her feeling they are more exposed by seeking help.
In my view, this novel was most powerful in that it exposed victim blaming in society and exposed the tendency in the reader. The fact I became so involved in the story and disturbed by the content left no choice but to give this a 5 star rating. While the book is a quick read, don’t ignore the opportunity at introspection provided by The Book of You