Against Her Will by Peter Martin tackles the difficult topic of rape. The author excels at getting in the psyche of the victim, 22-year-old Donna. The book follows Donna’s journey in the aftermath of the horrific attack. The author describes the attack in enough detail to give the reader a clear sense of what happened, but to his credit, it does not devolve into gratuitous violence for the sake of shock value.
The title of the book, Against Her Will, is of course about the rape being against her will, but it also reflects other aspects of Donna’s life. A rare beauty, Donna was forced into modeling and beauty pageants by her parents…against her will. Feeling used and exploited by them her whole life, she struggles with this into her adulthood and in the aftermath of the brutal attack on her. Another aspect I liked is that although her parents, especially her mom, tried to force Donna into a life she didn’t want, they are well-drawn, flawed characters who also have redeeming traits.
While Donna could be petulant and immature, I never lost sight of the fact that this young woman was dealing with the physical, sexual, mental and emotional assault on her, so I never lost sympathy for her. When Donna met Theresa, the younger sister of the male nurse who befriends her, I got deeper insight into Donna and the deep empathy and understanding that she was capable of. I liked that aspect of the book as it showed the growth of her character.
I won’t give anything away, but the book’s climax is riveting. While the majority of the book is an intense, gripping psychological journey, the climax is a bite your nails, edge of your seat kind of finish.
It’s a book that stays with you as I find myself thinking about the book and the characters after I stopped reading it.