The powerful and timely must-read memoir.
ME: I want to understand the larger question of how it’s possible to be a good person who –
HIM: Does terrible things.
ME: I think that’s what was kind of heartbreaking for me. It was this one night.
And otherwise, though, we were such good friends.
Jeannie’s memoir begins with a night fifteen years ago – the night a close friend sexually
assaulted her. With the rise of the #MeToo movement and the election of Trump, Jeannie’s recurrent nightmares of the incident have returned. After years of silence, to process her conflicted feelings of betrayal and to take back control, she resolves to face her trauma head-on by interviewing the man who raped her when they were nineteen years old. He agrees to talk on the record and through the interviews with her perpetrator – transcripts of which Jeannie has included in her book – she explores how the act of rape has impacted both of their lives and examines the language and culture surrounding sexual assault, rape and victimhood. Jeannie’s story deepens the discussion around sexual violence and is a necessary contribution to #MeToo from a brave, new voice.
“Such a confrontation is bold, unsettling and timely. (Vanasco) wanted to find out how a person who hurts others talks to himself about his actions. If we are ever going to reduce sexual violence, it’s a critically important question.” ―Laurie Halse Anderson in TIME
“It’s hard to overstate the importance of this gorgeous, harrowing, heartbreaking book . . . Vanasco is whip-smart and tender, open and ruthless; she is the perfect guide through the minefield of her trauma, and ours.” ―Carmen Maria Machado in Bustle
A Most Anticipated Book of Fall at Time, NYLON, Bustle, Pacific Standard, The Millions, Publishers Weekly, Chicago Tribune and more!
Jeannie Vanasco has had the same nightmare since she was a teenager. She startles awake, saying his name. It is always about him: one of her closest high school friends, a boy named Mark. A boy who raped her.
When her nightmares worsen, Jeannie decides―after fourteen years of silence―to reach out to Mark. He agrees to talk on the record and meet in person. “It’s the least I can do,” he says.
Jeannie details her friendship with Mark before and after the assault, asking the brave and urgent question: Is it possible for a good person to commit a terrible act? Jeannie interviews Mark, exploring how rape has impacted his life as well as her own. She examines the language surrounding sexual assault and pushes against its confines, contributing to and deepening the #MeToo discussion.
Exacting and courageous, Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl is part memoir, part true crime record, and part testament to the strength of female friendships―a recounting and reckoning that will inspire us to ask harder questions and interrogate our biases.
Jeannie Vanasco examines and dismantles long-held myths of victimhood, discovering grace and power in this genre-bending investigation into the trauma of sexual violence.
Writer On The Shelf
Jeannie Vanasco is the author of The Glass Eye. Featured by Poets & Writers as one of the five best literary nonfiction debuts of 2017, The Glass Eye was also selected as a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick, an Indies Introduce Pick, and an Indie Next Pick. Her second book, Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl, will be published in the US and UK in October, 2019.
Her nonfiction has appeared in The Believer, The New York Times, the Times Literary Supplement, and NewYorker.com, and her essays have twice been named notable selections in Best American Essays. Her poetry has appeared in Little Star, Poet’s Country, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere, and her poetry honors include an Emerging Poets Fellowship from Poets House and an Amy Award from Poets & Writers.
She lives in Baltimore and is an assistant professor of English at Towson University. Her website is http://www.jeannievanasco.com.