Review of ‘The Book of You’ by Claire Kendal

The Book of YouI received this book as part of the GoodReads First Reads programme.

This book gave me nightmares. It’s brilliantly written and quite compelling, but the subject matter is horrifying. If you plan to read it, make sure you don’t read it late at night while you are on your own in your house!

The Book of You tells the story of Clarissa who is being stalked by the terrifying, obsessive Rafe. It’s divided into alternating narratives. One from Clarissa’s first person point of view, writing in her journal recording Rafe’s behaviour and addressed to him. The other is third person, describing Clarissa’s day to day life which revolves around being a juror in a rape trial.

These types of dark, chilling psychological thrillers written from a woman’s point of view about the horrifying mental and physical violence perpetrated by men are becoming increasingly popular. I think fans of Into the Darkest Corner, Before I Go to Sleep and Apple Tree Yard will really like this book. I’m not sure why these type of books are becoming so popular. They are definitely compelling but they are also really disturbing.

Reading about the powerlessness of women against obsessive, delusional and violent men is terrifying. At least these men usually get what’s coming to them at the end of the book, but not before they’ve put the woman through enough trauma to scar them for life.

The Book of You stands apart from these similar narratives because of the clever use of the secondary story of the rape trial and the parallels between the testimony of what happened to the victim and what is happening to Clarissa in her life. The treatment of the rape victim makes Clarissa more reluctant to go to the police because she sees how the victim is doubted and treated like the rape was her fault.

If you can stomach the subject matter, this is a very well-written and captivating read, a perfect addition to this genre.

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