Title: Fault Line
Author: Christa Desir
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
When in a library, or anywhere hunting books, I generally tend to stay away from stories dealing with sexual assault and trauma. I am not a picky reader. But since December 16, 2012 in especial, I have been growing more and more scared of these stories. India is a fucked-up country from our food security to the economy, and for almost a year now, I’ve been tracking newspapers and in each one of them, every fucking day, I’ve found a new rape/assault case. Maybe in the tiny 4-lines section in the side just above the daily surveys and temperature warning, perhaps in big, bold letters on the front page, and sometimes hidden obscurely so far within the pages that a year ago I wouldn’t tread into. Ergo, it was a huge fucking deal for me to knowingly read Fault Line. And 20 hrs later, I’m still very scared and sad, and it made me cry so many tears upon tears, and lo! they have started yet again.
I haven’t been cause to feel this desperate and melancholic about my[MINE!] characters since Froi of the Exiles.
Although the prologue decidedly sets a tone for the book, as the story moves on backwards from six months ago to the moment at the beginning, it’s one of those wonderful teen romances that I genuinely like, where the substance is in the characters and nothing else; not how they met, nor their kisses. The story which makes teenagers smooching and mooching around kinda fun, really. It’s a very short book and the first 40% isn’t much, but Ben and Ani and at the side, Kate and Kevin, become as persons before the rape. Ani’s an outspoken, confident girl who paints and Ben’s the swim-team jewel. First love, mustard-y kisses, and otters frisking.
There are some funny moments with beer games, and this one line that literally made me guffaw too.
Her laughter was more of a guffaw and it wrapped itself around us in a shell of realness. I nearly stumbled.
It seemed like I had so much to say to Ben in those pages, so many conversations to be had, so many answers I could give him on the workings of girls’ minds.
I figured she talked to Kate since it was more girl stuff anyways.[punch*punch*punch](This was in regards to the Ani’s father’s estrangement.)
Why do girls do this? Always with the lip licking.[snort*snort*snort](Oh I’ll tell you why, boy.)
Being written in Ben’s POV, I believe it makes Fault Line a more evocative novel than, had it been written from Ani’s perspective. I don’t know, I just think it spreads the fact that rape utterly destroys the victim as well as their loved ones. Ani’s POV, IMO, would have had enough of her own sorrow and grief and nightmares that of those around her would be eclipsed. And fact remain, Ms Desir wrote Ben’s narration with such effect and genuine pain which leaves no doubt that he, himself, is a sufferer. That he never could give up on her, that seeing her spiral down and take him with her was never enough because always, always there would be a glimpse of the old Ani. He soon becomes not one of the best MC’s ever. His thoughts and yes’s and no’s and actions and reactions are not one to please. Same goes for Ani, who starts to self-destruct, trying to live up to the image of Firecrotch, Train Wreck, and every other name she’s given. But do bear in mind that the book is not about me or you, instead Ani and Ben.
Fault Line isn’t a story of, to use a cliche, a girl getting back on her feet, nor is a story of healing. It’s the story of a two teenagers going from 60 to zero in a heartbeat, and further and further towards left on the number line.[Tilt the imagery, so the number line’s vertical, yeah?] There’s no mystery, no revenge, just all going downhill.
At the party, shit happens that Ani doesn’t remember. Considering there are no hard facts, the ambiguous nature of the transpired events raises some obvious moral questions, not just the obvious ones. Was Ani really kissing other boys at the party and does that mean she was conscious of her actions? Doubt plagues the whole story and it casts light on our own culture of victim blaming. Ani was drunk, and possibly roofied, so whatever did or didn’t happen was her fault, her fucking decision. She danced on tables like a slut, she acted slutty, she announced to the world she was going to hook up with the guys who would be the perpetrators. Do the sluts deserve to be raped? Did Ani? Since Ani doesn’t remember, people are going to complain that she’s crying rape, and to make my stand clear, I don’t support that argument.
FUCKFUCKFUCK, I HATED WRITING DOWN THAT ABOVE PARAGRAPH. FUCK.
We keep blaming the victim, we cast aspersions one their tragedies, we impugn their characters, and we let go of the rapists. Funnily enough, I had a discussion in a similar vein earlier at school today with a classmate. We were discussing a rape case where the woman has come up around 2 decades after the incident, and he was questioning the validity of her “story” since she couldn’t pinpoint the exact date or location of the “incident”. Even more funnily, the perpetrator is a guy who’s already in jail for various other rape cases.
The ending is very sad, exactly how I expected, and so so so very bitter. I want to hope for the better, but in Ani’s case I am doubtful. But Whovian here, toting around two hearts and not gonna give up. I sorta want a sequel, but there’s no chance of that.
Christa Desir‘s next novel, set for 2014, is already on my wishlist. Eh, but I think Bleed Like Me will almost definitely suffer from TOO AFRAID TO PICK UP SYNDROME that started with Swati Avasthi’s Split, and re-emerged when I got my ARC of Quintana of Charyn. I haven’t read either.
It’s taken me around two hours to write this review, but I feel it’s inadequate to a T. It’s a…favorite novel, not lovely, not beautiful.
I ain’t gonna wish anyone a scary, spooky Halloween because, as you’ve sampled, I’m not in a festive mood.