I’m so glad my book club picked this as our next book, because reading it made me rage hardcore and I need a group of awesome ladies and mimosas to decompress with. This book was upsetting. You’re either going to be horrified at the actual atrocities done to these women’s bodies, or you’re going to rage impotently at the ineffectual, dismissive way rape victims are treated by the law, and the way our culture almost 100% stands behind rapists. Or you will have both reactions at the same time. But you need to read it.
(Unless, of course, you have trauma in your past that would make you emotionally incapable of doing so. Krakauer does describe the crimes in graphic detail, and the way the victims are treated afterwards is almost more upsetting in a lot of cases. If that’s the case, buy the book for a friend and make them read it instead.)
But the rest of you have no excuses. The only way things are going to change is by bringing attention to them. One of the things victims fight against, as is made clear in the book, is that the general conception of rapists , the facts of acquaintance rape, and victim behavior (which can seem nonsensical and illogical to juries unless the psychology is carefully explained) are so widely misunderstood by the public that the system is primed for victims to be blamed, and rapists to be excused or not punished at all. Fixing that will take education on the part of the public, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system.
In what is probably the most thorough reporting job of his career, Krakauer documents the supposed rape problem in Missoula, Montana. I say supposed because as we learn near the beginning of the book, Missoula’s percentage of rape is actually in line with the national average, so really, it’s our country’s rape problem. Due to a series of circumstances involving journalists bringing to light several cases of beloved football players accused of rape, Missoula’s taking the heat.
*He stated in interviews that he double and triple checked facts, and left some things out of the book that he was 100% sure of, just because he couldn’t find a second or third source to confirm them.
Krakauer follows several rape victims and their stories from rape to prosecution in order to illustrate how our systems are broken, and how it is affecting rape victims, their families, and ultimately, perpetuating a system that shelters the rapists, who statistically will almost all go on to assault again. It is upsetting, rage-inducing stuff.
I’ve had a hard time actually sitting down to write this review for a multitude of reasons, because the book was well-written, but it’s also so, so important. I hope you won’t just let my possibly poor representation of Missoula be your only experience with it. Missoula 100% lays out the facts and makes its case. If something is broken, we should try to fix it, but first we have to acknowledge it’s broken in the first place.