The Book of You by Claire Kendal

This book is about Clarissa and her stalker Rafe. He chose her and deceptively wormed his way into her life and has been stalking her ever since. Stalking doesn’t feel like a strong enough word for all the things that happen in this book. He torments her, he infiltrates her life, he isolates her. When I first read the description in the book, I assumed it would be a young geeky man just following her. But that is not the case here. This is psychological torture. So you can see just from the content that this is not a pleasant read. But it is still gripping and I just couldn’t put it down, all the while begging that she manages to escape.
This book is a great read but it didn’t sit well with me whilst reading it. The content and the way the story is told is really hard hitting and distressing and kept me up most of the night. However, I think that this is one of those books that is not supposed to sit well with you. It is supposed to get you thinking and feeling the negative emotions and experiences that many people in the world are feeling, that you are shielded from. It is a powerful message about one of the many harrowing experiences that many women and men are forced to endure at the hands of the evil that is in the world. People that don’t go through it just cannot understand and don’t want to think about it but this book is remedy to this. This book grabs you and then infiltrates your mind so that you are feeling the tension, the distress and exasperation that the character does.
One thing that I really liked about this book is that it covers all the bases. At one point I was like, why doesn’t she just move away? But that is answered. Every judgement that I had of Clarissa and how she handles it was answered and it actually made me think, I’m actually victim blaming when I think like this. Every thought she had about what people would say about her, I had thought some of them. So this book has actually made me re-evaluate the way I look at things like this. Which is what I think the author is trying to convey in this book. It was quite scary the thought that Clarissa had to go through so much until she had enough evidence to make people believe her. It highlighted the flaws in our institutions that are supposed to protect us. A lot of time and training has recently been implemented to deal with Sexual Abuse cases but I find myself wondering if stalking has been included in this. Although the police that Clarissa does come into contact with are kind and compassionate (if inefficient when it matters). Clarissa’s reliance on the leaflets and support of charities and their advise shocked me. When she first dialed 999 she should have been taken more seriously and given someone to support her. I feel that if she just had someone in her corner that would believe her no matter then it would have become such a volatile situation. Just writing this now I am realising how much this book has made me think and riled me up about the injustice of it all.
The only negative comments I have on this book are the characters of Robert and Annie. I didn’t understand or relate to them. We spend quite a lot of time getting to know them and I just didn’t click with them. I found them quite strange and some of the comments that they made just bizarre. That is the only reason that I didn’t give this 5 stars.
Other than that this book just gets better for me the more I think about it and it makes you think, it really grabs you by the shoulders and shouts at you: this isn’t just a story this is something that is actually relevant today, what are you going to do about it? Well Claire Kendal I am going to be more aware about this topic as a whole and not partake in victim blaming from this post onwards!
I recommend this book to everyone that wants a thought provoking read, to people that like their books to have a strong social and moral message, I think every woman should read this to become aware that this happens. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone of a delicate nature that prefers hearts and roses as this is not this book. This is our society under the magnifying glass and it isn’t pretty.


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