As described in the title of this post, I Stop Somewhere reads like a version of The Lovely Bones as a raging, mournful takedown of rape culture. The author notes in her acknowledgement and her website that she wrote this partly out of anger, and I could tell and was grateful for that. One of the things that #MeToo being more visible has brought us is the increased visibility of women’s rage at what has been happening to and continues to happen to us. I don’t think we can value and amplify that justified rage enough.
There are so many books written about teenaged girls who have been abused and raped. And so many of them are valuable, but so many of them feel somewhat lacking, either because they paint the same picture of a girl who bravely gets past what has happened to her surrounded by loving friends and family (which is not the experience of many, many victims) or because they only present the sad idea of a Rape Victim, a trope, a tragic Ophelia for us to tsk about and then forget. I Stop Somewhere seems to understand at its core why those books might feel empty or even insulting to a survivor. They always felt that way to me, but I kept seeking out books on those subjects because I needed something to validate my experience.
This is one of the few books I’ve read that truly did feel validating it that way. Because it acknowledges the rage, the helplessness, and most importantly it focuses with laser precision on the culture that causes women and girls to not only be abused but allows them to be forgotten and devalued after the abuse happens. It displays the callous indifference that both individuals and society show to the experience of survivors while simultaneously claiming to care about them.
It does all this through the voice of Ellie, who was killed by her rapists and must keep watching as they continue to hurt other girls. Ellie, who is kind and lonely and desperately wants acceptance. Ellie, who finds her own kind of redemption, but not in a way that feels like an insultingly pat ending where everything is magically okay because it will never be okay for her. Ellie, who I won’t ever forget.