I have just finished reading this book for a second time, choosing to re-read it in tribute to the poet who died earlier this year. What strikes me about the process of re-reading, is how different this reading was from my first. The first reading had been a shock, a jolt. The key moment was the rape of a young girl; it was sickening, frightening, unknowable or at least unspeakable. However, it was clearly (even beautifully) articulated as a young girl’s experience. It was an amazing narrative trick that the adult voice of the writing was also the young, abused girl.
‘Was that the first time the accused touched you?’ The question stopped me. Mr Freeman had surely done something very wrong, but I was convinced that I had helped him to do it. I didn’t want to lie, but the lawyer wouldn’t let me think, so I used silence as a retreat.
‘Did the accused try to touch you before the time he, or rather you say he, raped you?’
This is an unusual entry for this blog. It is customary for me to write about fiction and make connections with social work and justice that the artist has highlighted for me. So, what can I learn from reading about actual social work? I picked up Olive Stevenson’s memoir because it was to be discussed at the Social Work Book Group, an endeavour that excites me and (with candour similar to Olive’s) of which I am slightly jealous. It is unlikely that I would have read it without that prompt. Continue reading →