Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sadie by Courtney Summers

One of the things that infuriates me - infuriates me - about violent crimes against women is that each time one of these articles gets out, dudes (yes, yes, #notalldudes) act totally shocked, like this sort of thing has never happened in the history of ever and it's the first time they've ever heard of it. "What do you mean rape?" they squawk, clutching their man-pearls like scandalized aunts. "That's a thing? Who would do that? You're saying people abuse young girls? Children? Wow, I would never do that. As a heterosexual white guy, I can't even imagine  such a sick individual... I mean, I had someone look at me funny on the bus once but this is definitely ten times worse. ANYWAY, let's see what's on the sports channel." Wash, rinse, repeat.

Don't even get me started on the straight white guys who seem to feel its their duty to tell this story, usually from the lens of a concerned father ("As the father of a teen girl, I feel sickened by the thought of someone doing this to my innocent princess") or the condemning judge ("Well, she was known to drink sometimes at parties and met this athlete (who scored the fourth down touchdown pass at the last home game, incidentally) at a party, so I imagine alcohol was involved, and frankly, women are known to exaggerate, so what's all the fuss?"). Either nobody cares unless a straight white guy tells the story, or a straight white guy does his damnedest to help cover the story up. In either case, the woman - the victim - is omitted from the narrative.

So it's fitting, then, that SADIE is told in a split narrative, one from the concerned white guy who is a father (although he's not straight), the other from the victim herself, in her own words. Sadie is one of those girls who, when they disappear, nobody is shocked. Her mother is a drug addict and the only father figures have been a revolving door of men, some worse than others. She has a stutter. She has no money, no privilege, nothing except her younger sister, who turns up dead one day. Shortly after her sister's death, Sadie herself goes missing, and we are privy to her odyssey as helpful radio personality (and father of a daughter himself), West McCray, fills us in on the aftermath.

You really can't know too much about this book without having all the crucial details spoiled for you, but it's basically a girl on the hunt for her younger sister's killer while trying to exorcise some of her own dark and personal demons. It's a short read and goes by at a breakneck pace, because man, if you're not invested in the beginning, you will be by the end. I was desperate to see what happened to the two girls, and that ending - WITHOUT SPOILING ANYTHING - made me want to hurl my laptop out of the nearest window, because it was so unsatisfying to me, personally. It's not for the reason you think (again, I'm not spoiling anything - this is not about the HEA or lack thereof). It's about all the dudes out there, who co-opt these stories of violence against women and either make it about them or use it as a cautionary tale against women who don't follow the rules, or else trivialize it into some bite-sized sensationalism with a cheeky, "tune in next week to find out" attitude.

Sexism is happening, and sometimes it's sickening, violent. But sometimes, it's much more subtle.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

4 out of 5 stars

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