'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Review: No Virgin

Anne Cassidy writes the hard stuff.

In Looking for JJ, she explored the thoughts of a child murderer after her release from prison as a teenager: you can't get much darker than that.

But No Virgin hit me harder, because it was so much closer to home.

Stacey Woods is an ordinary teenager with the usual sorts of home, school and relationship issues. I suspect we all want to get away from it all the way Stacey did.

But Stacey is raped. When she returns home and struggles to come to terms with it all, her best friend encourages her to put everything that happened down on paper. So that's what she does and that's what we read.

No matter which way you look at it, Stacey was deeply hurt by the ones she cared most about long before the rape occurred, so it takes a while to work through that lead up.

Then, just when the world seems to sweeten for her, things twist. Odd little details don't make sense. I really didn't see it coming – not until after – just like Stacey.

One of the reasons No Virgin affected me so deeply is that I remember taking a few risks, meeting a few strangers and revelling in that feeling of adventure. It all seemed so fine at the time.

Another reason Stacey wouldn't let me go was the way she retold her story. Her observations seemed so random and void of emotion. Then it dawned on me. She was still in shock.

Even though No Virgin isn't a rollercoaster of fun, I wish every teenage girl on the planet would have the courage to read it. In the same way that Cry Blue Murder  cracked open the world of internet stalkers, No Virgin  gives girls the heads up about another dangerous breed – one that we'd never suspect could bode ill-will, let alone line us up as rape targets.

I hope No Virgin becomes an international classic and holds a permanent place in every secondary school library. It has earned that privilege.

Title: No Virgin
Author: Anne Cassidy
Publisher: Hot Key Books, $16.99
Publication Date: 1 January, 2017
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781471405785
For ages: 14 years +
Type: Young Adult