I'd never read an Oates book before and came across this one by chance. Glad I did. I was intrigued by the title. How could rape be also a love story? Well, now I know!
It's also a story of what ifs, if onlys. If only the single yourng mother had allowed her daughter, Bethel, to sleep-over at friends, if only...well, there are quite a few more which serves no purpose since the mother, Teena, finished up fighting for her life after a brutal and horrifying gang-rape.
The story is mainly told through the eyes of Bethie who was also badly beaten and traumatised at the same time. The style of writing is quick, forceful and yet filled with just the right words to convey their meaning.
Sparse it may be, but the reader is left in no doubt how it happened, why it happened and who were the main low-lifes who committed the act. That subsequent court hearings cast doubt on the events only causes a certain NYPD officer to carefully deal with the problem. Despite the awful act, there is love abounding in the book. The daughter who loves her devastated mother, the officer who, as in one of those inexplicable events in life when you meet someone casually and they remain in your mind forever watches over Teena, the grandmother who does her best for daughter and granddaughter; even the parents of the yobs who just cannot believe their offspring could do such a thing. Love is all around and thank goodness it is. You finish this novella quickly because it moves quickly. But you are left in no doubt that, despite horrific events, there is hope and you should cling to it no matter the odds. All-in-all, I'm more than glad I read this book; I'm sure you will be, too.
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