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No Virgin by Anne Cassidy - Review

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Where did I get it? Netgalley, courtesy of Hot Key Books, so thank you very much to them. 

What's it about? Stacey is seventeen and in her first year of A levels. She lives in Stratford in the East End of London with her mum, her sister Jodie and Jodie's baby Tyler. Her parents are divorced; her dad lives in Shoreditch. Stacey dreams of becoming a fashion designer. She has a best friend, Patrice. Following an argument with her mum and Jodie she stays one night at her dad's flat while he's away. She's planning to go home the next day when she meets Harry.

Harry is posh, from Kensington. He is immediately charming and says he can help Stacey with her fashion career. He invites Stacey to spend the night in a friend's flat and while she is there, she is raped.

The book begins after the rape, and we see Stacey go home and tell Patrice what's happened. Patrice encourages her to report it to the police, but Stacey doesn't feel able to. Instead she writes it all down, which is what we read.

The book is a clear and concise account of what could happen in this situation. Stacey is a likeable character. I liked how the book was laid out, and I'm really looking forward to the sequel, which I won't spoil if you haven't read about it. 

I liked how Stacey's family was pretty poor, too, while Harry's wasn't, and she felt the disconnect between them over that. I am a big fan of working class characters in Young Adult novels. 

I want to say a few things about sexual assault and rape here. Only enthusiastic, freely given consent is consent. Being drunk isn't consent. Being unconscious isn't consent. Staying silent isn't consent. Only yes means yes. If you have been sexually assaulted or raped and would like some support or to speak to someone, I recommend Rape Crisis. What happened isn't your fault, not if you were drunk, not if you were in a relationship with someone, no matter what you were wearing, no matter who you were with. Sexual violence are rape are the fault of perpetrators and rapists alone. It isn't your fault and you're not alone. 

What age range is it for? 15+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No

Are any main characters people of colour? No 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No 

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, there is description of rape. It is painful to read, so be gentle with yourself. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? There are mentions of cannabis use. 

Is there any talk of death? No 

Are there swear words? Not too many 

What criticisms do I have? Well, almost none. I did really like the book and I read it really quickly. But the beginning annoyed me, because I felt like Stacey was being disparaging towards her sister, who was only fourteen when she had her baby. I felt like Stacey was saying she was a "good" girl and Jodie wasn't. I didn't like this judgement and I wish it hadn't been there. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? Well, honestly, I am trying to read some of my Netgalley books! I made a list of some I want to read over the next year, and thought there was no time to start like the present! I had seen some buzz about this book and the sequel No Shame, so I started it. 

What other books is it like? I've heard it's like Asking for It by Louise O'Neill, because of the theme of rape, but I haven't actually read that book myself. 

How many stars? Four out of five. 

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