Our little secret
Author: Allayne Webster
Edwina’s best-friend’s older sister, Anne-Marie, has been raped, and the topic of her small town’s gossip is: did she ‘ask for it’ – were her clothes too slutty, was she too flirtatious, had she been drinking at the time?
This theme of consent /ambiguous consent /non consent to sexual advances is explored with confidence and forthrightness by the author. Edwina finds herself flattered by the attention of Tom, a much older young man. Her choices are clouded by her experimentations with alcohol and drugs. She knows she said ‘no’, but she continues to see Tom and submit to his demands for sex. They eventually break up and it is some time before a kindly teacher, herself a rape survivor, suspects what has happened to Edwina and offers her support.
This is a message-driven novel. Webster juxtaposes the plight of Anne-Marie, who is silenced, doubted and unsupported, with Edwina, who is supported and encouraged to speak by her courageous teacher. The messages are clear and uncompromising. Unfortunately, this quite clinical approach to the storytelling carries over to the people in the story. They lacked depth and emotion, and seemed reduced to the message-relaying roles that the author had assigned them.
It’s a big message though, and, from any and every source, one that every girl needs to hear.