Every now and then, we make a behind-the-scenes decision to not cover a certain book or author on YA Interrobang for a variety of reasons. It’s not usually something that needs to be discussed publicly, and it’s almost never noticed.
A fellow blogger brought Chris Lynch’s upcoming YA novel Irreversible to our attention, and we made the decision not to cover it on YA Interrobang. Because our reasoning isn’t a problem with the author or publisher, but the very premise of the novel, we wanted to make a small post explaining why you won’t see the book on our site.
The summary for Irreversible explains the premise of the book as such:
The accused date rapist from the “finely crafted and thought-provoking” (School Library Journal) National Book Award Finalist, Inexcusable, must confront the kind of person he really is and come to terms with his past actions, in this stunning sequel from Printz Honor–winning author Chris Lynch.
Keir Sarafian insists he did nothing wrong. But no one will believe that he’s the good guy he knows he is—no one except his father, Ray. And Ray is just the person Keir has to leave in order to have the fresh start he deserves.
Now at Carnegie College, Keir’s life isn’t what he thought it would be. Two soccer players are poised to take his spot as kicker. Ray keeps calling, and Joyce, his guiding light on campus, seems to be avoiding him. When tragedy strikes, will Keir finally be able to confront his past actions and realize his potential?
The first book in the series, Inexcusable, focuses on Keir raping his girlfriend and what happens when his girlfriend Gigi comes forward with what happened to her. Keir spends the entire novel denying what he’s done. Even the blurb for Inexcusable’s tenth anniversary edition admits to his rape while trying to make apologies for Keir’s behavior: “all too easy for a good guy to do something terribly wrong.”
(As Inexcusable released over ten years ago, with the anniversary edition having released last January, it was not on our radar until now.)
Irreversible is, in no uncertain terms, a rape apologist novel.
“I didn’t do anything, Gigi.”
“Yes you did! I said no!”
I say this very firmly. “You did not.”
By the end of Inexcusable, Keir hasn’t learned that what he’s done is wrong. He’s still in denial, and subsequently, when Irreversible starts, he’s still insisting that he hasn’t raped Gigi. You do not have to read the book to realize this, as the focus of Irreversible is on Keir “confronting his past” and “realizing his potential.”
Chris Lynch has every right to write the story he wants to write. We cannot stop him, nor would we if we could. There will be some who cry ‘censorship’ because we are choosing not to feature him on our site. It is not censorship to walk away from something that does not interest you.
Keir is a rapist. His narrative is one of redemption, of apology, of saying that maybe rapists aren’t so bad.
We are not interested in redemption arcs for rapists.
In real life, rapists are not forced to confront their past. In real life, rapists get away with what they’ve done almost all the time, even when the victims come forward. The victims are made to feel ashamed. The victims are made to feel powerless.
The rapists do not feel like they have done anything wrong. They move on. They don’t suffer for their crimes. Even Keir in Irreversible doesn’t truly suffer – he’s still off to college, still able to play soccer.
If Chris Lynch wanted to give somebody an arc in a post-Inexcusable world, it should not have been the rapist who still does not believe he did anything wrong. It should have been Gigi. Her recovery, her survival.
What Irreversible as a narrative seeks to do – to make rapists forgivable, to leave the victims forgotten in the wake of their supposed change-of-heart – is not one that we are interested in featuring.
We are not interested in narratives where victims of sexual assault – 44% under 18, many of them teens – will see a fictional representation of those who assaulted or raped them as heroes, as somebody who can be redeemed. We are not interested in narratives where rapists feel like they can be redeemed, that what they did was not so terrible, that they’re not so terrible, that life goes on.
One in every six women will be raped in their lifetime, often by somebody they thought they could trust, as Gigi trusted Keir. We are not interested in the narratives that forgive them.
We will not be covering Chris Lynch’s Irreversible on YA Interrobang. It will not appear in our round-ups, be it a weekly release or an excerpt. Outside of this post, it shall not appear at all. Instead, we will continue to promote narratives that focus not on forgiving the abuser, but on the survival and empowerment of the abused: books like Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Courtney Summers’ All the Rage.
We stand with the victims of sexual assault, in both narratives and in real life.
If you have been sexually assaulted and need to speak to somebody, RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) has both an online hotline and a phone hotline. RAINN also has resources for those who wish to learn more about sexual violence and what part they can play to help end it.
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