Title: What Rosie Was
Author: Rosie Price
Pages: 304 Pages
Publisher: Random House
When Kate Quaile meets Max Rippon in the first week of university, so begins a life-changing friendship.
Over the next four years, the two become inseparable. For him, she breaks her solitude; for her, he leaves his busy circles behind. But knowing Max means knowing his family: the wealthy Rippons, all generosity, social ease, and quiet repression. Theirs is a very different world from Kate’s own upbringing, and yet she finds herself quickly drawn into their gilded lives, and the secrets that lie beneath. Until one evening, at the Rippons home, just after graduation, her life is shattered apart in a bedroom while a party goes on downstairs.
What Red Was is an incisive and mesmerizing novel about power, privilege, and consent—one that fearlessly explores the effects of trauma on the mind and body of a young woman, the tyrannies of memory, the sacrifices involved in staying silent, and the courage in speaking out. And when Kate does, it raises this urgent question: Whose story is it now?
What Red Was is a really difficult book to read. This is not because the writing is obscure or hard, not is it because of the triggering subject that it deals with (which believe me could be hard for people to read) but for me it is because of the normalcy of people’s behaviour in the book. The triggering act is a sex attack – normally I wouldn’t do spoilers but to discuss the book I think it needs to be mentioned. As I said previously, there is an acceptance to the behaviour of the attacker. This is not a novel full of shock and awe.
However, what I did find really positive about What Red Was is that amidst all of the hurt and pain caused Rosie Price shows how victims can and must move on. How their lives can be shaped by that one act or that it can be used as one part of bigger, wider story. I am in no way trying to diminish what happened to protagonist Katie, what happened to her in the novel is hideous and abhorrent and no amount of writing can justify it. What I will say is that Rosie Price allows you, the reader, to move on much like Katie does.
What Red Was by Rosie Price is available now.
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