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The Girl at the Door by Veronica Raimo

Peeps, I have no idea what the point of Veronica Raimo’s The Girl at the Door is. I suppose one could loosely describe it as being about relationships. However, even that possibility has me shaking my head. With no plot, no world-building, and no character development, I don’t even know what I read.

The characters, if you could call them that, are awful – selfish to the point of narcissistic, rude, and without any semblance of concern or love to connect one to the other. The He character, the male in the relationship, stands accused of rape and spends his portions of the novel reflecting on the love (or lust or obsession?) he felt for this student accuser. He doesn’t consider the sex acts in question as rape because they were, in his opinion, mutually desired at the time.

The She character spends all of her time wondering why she moved to this other country to be with him, how she doesn’t believe the accusations (because they perform the very same sex acts as those listed in the accusation), and how being pregnant with his child makes her life in this foreign country easier to bear. There is also some obsession on her part towards the accuser.

I really struggle with any novel right now that tries to show an accused rapist as somewhat sympathetic. In my opinion, Ms. Raimo attempts to do just that with her male character. Except, I don’t believe we need more novels that call into question the validity of a victim’s story or remind us how one person’s idea of rape could be different from someone else’s. In fact, this aspect of whatever the hell you want to call this book is not just disturbing but rather disgusting too.

Maybe The Girl at the Door reads better in its original Italian. My impressions of this translated version are of crassness, bitterness, and of almost gleefully disturbing voyeurism into the sex lives of others. I only finished it because I wanted to determine if this idyllic society would find him guilty or not. One should not feel relief upon finishing a book, but relief is what I felt. I felt dirty while reading The Girl at the Door, something I hope no one ever has to feel about any book.

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