Review: What Red Was by Rosie Price

by | Book Review

Trigger warning: Sexual Abuse

Powerful is the only word that I can use to describe this book. I finished the final page overwhelmed with emotion, and it is fair to say that it took me a while to be able to articulate my emotions about it.

What Red Was follows the story of Kate, a young woman who is attending university. She befriends Max, another uni student who has a large family, and so when she is invited to start attending parties with this family, she has to adjust to living in a world that is on a different level of class to her own.

Max’s family include lawyers and film directors where Kate’s world is a lot more humble in its status, and the materialistic sides of their lives are a world away. However, even if a family has all the money and status in the world, corruption can tear it apart, we soon learn.

Upon entering into Max’s family, Kate is sexually assaulted. I read the scene that details this feeling awfully uncomfortable, but I needed to feel like this in order to understand the damage that it did to Kate. However, no matter how uncomfortable I did feel, my overarching emotion was one of powerlessness. I wanted to help Kate, I really did. To say she did not deserve this to happen to her is not enough, nobody ever deserves this awful fate. I find it hard to articulate the anger I felt at her abuser, and the breaking of my heart that I felt for Kate herself.

But what I fail to articulate here, Rosie Price makes up for her in her narrative. Price carefully explores what the effects of this awful attack are on Kate for the rest of her life. She details how it mentally damages Kate, and how it causes her to become anxious, self-destructive even. She also details how Kate tries to live with this being her secret. She moves from shame, to learning to accept that telling others about this event can be a way to helping her move on with her life, in the way that she feels comfortable doing so.

I do not want to give any spoilers away here, so I will just end by saying that the final chapters of the book blew me away. The way that they wove the different elements of the narrative together, and the way that they deal with Kate’s mental state in such a realistic way is something that I greatly admire. This book is no easy read, but as I say, it is a powerful read; it is also essential to understanding how integral support is to victims of sexual abuse.

You can buy the book from Blackwells here.

Words by Sophie Wilson.

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