The best books about the aftermath of sexual assault

Who am I?

I write novels for adults, young adults (My Life as a Bench won the International Rubery Book of the Year), and children. Using my experience as an art student in Nottingham, I wanted to look at the dark side of Sex in the City. The sexual revolution of the 60s gave women freedom, but at what cost? Conviction rates for sexual assault remain depressingly low and our streets remain unsafe for women at night.


I wrote...

I Came to Find a Girl

By Jaq Hazell,

Book cover of I Came to Find a Girl

What is my book about?

I Came to Find a Girl is a psychological thriller about a young art student’s twisted “relationship” with famous artist and convicted serial killer Jack Flood.

A complex game of cat and mouse in the seedy streets of Nottingham, England, ends in death. Young artist Mia Jackson is compelled to watch the posthumous video diaries of Jack Flood – controversial bad boy of the London art world and convicted serial killer. Can Mia allow Drake Gallery to show Aftermath in their retrospective of his work? Muse or victim why was she allowed to survive?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Room

Jaq Hazell Why did I love this book?

You won’t find a more innocent narrator than five-year-old Jack. He lives in “Room”, the only place he knows, with Ma, and the only other person he has met is “Old Nick” – the man who abducted, imprisoned, and now visits his mother at night. Inspired by the horrendous Fritzl case, Room is heart-breaking and compelling. Jack’s only contact with the outside world is via what he sees on TV until he has to escape. Following this nail-bitingly intense episode, you’ll be gunning for Jack and his ma as they try to move on with their lives.

By Emma Donoghue,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Room as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A major film starring Brie Larson.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

Picador Classics edition with an introduction by John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Today I'm five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I'm changed to five, abracadabra.

Jack lives with his Ma in Room. Room has a single locked door and a skylight, and it measures ten feet by ten feet. Jack loves watching TV but he knows that nothing he sees on the screen…


Book cover of My Dark Vanessa

Jaq Hazell Why did I love this book?

Sexual abuse that occurs repeatedly over a long period can be particularly hard to understand. Sometimes it seems like the victim has gone back for more and may be complicit in some way. My Dark Vanessa illustrates how abusers (who are often older and more sophisticated) groom their victims and it shows how it can take years for the person who has suffered to understand what they have been through.

By Kate Elizabeth Russell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My Dark Vanessa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An instant New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2021 DYLAN THOMAS AWARD

'A package of dynamite' Stephen King

'Powerful, compulsive, brilliant' Marian Keyes

An era-defining novel about the relationship between a fifteen-year-old girl and her teacher

ALL HE DID WAS FALL IN LOVE WITH ME AND THE WORLD TURNED HIM INTO A MONSTER

Vanessa Wye was fifteen-years-old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.…


Book cover of Asking For It

Jaq Hazell Why did I love this book?

Emma O’Donovan is a pretty and popular 18-year-old whose life completely changes after she attends a couple of parties and the following day is found semi-conscious on her doorstep. Unaware of what she has been through the night before, Emma struggles to cope with the public shaming that ensues. This is a brilliant examination of consent, rape culture, and how hard it can be to speak out and seek justice.

By Louise O'Neill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Asking For It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

'A soul-shattering novel that will leave your emotions raw. This story will haunt me forever. Everyone should read it' Guardian

In a small town where everyone knows everyone, Emma O'Donovan is different. She is the special one - beautiful, popular, powerful. And she works hard to keep it that way.

Until that night . . .

Now, she's an embarrassment. Now, she's just a slut. Now, she is nothing.

And those pictures - those pictures that everyone has seen - mean she can never forget.

For fans of Caitlin Moran, Marian Keyes and Jodi Picoult.

BOOK OF THE YEAR AT…


Book cover of Anatomy of a Scandal

Jaq Hazell Why did I love this book?

Privilege, entitlement, politics, and sleaze, it’s all here, along with the disturbing sense that many perpetrators get away with far too many misdeeds for most of their lives, while their victims’ lives are instantly thrown into crisis. It’s a solid, twisty psychological thriller with hints of the Bullingdon Club and Westminster bad behaviour.

By Sarah Vaughan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Anatomy of a Scandal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOW A HIT NETFLIX SERIES

Instant International Bestseller

“A nuanced story line perfectly in tune with our #metoo times.” —People, Book of the Week

“One of the season’s most buzzed-about thrillers.” —Bookish

“A strong choice for book clubs. Former political correspondent Vaughan makes an impressive debut with this savvy, propulsive courtroom drama.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Vaughan offers gripping insight into a political scandal’s hidden machinations and the tension between justice and privilege…Absorbing, polished.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Skillfully interweaving the story of the unfolding scandal, Vaughan gradually reveals just how shockingly high the stakes are…Sinewy…engrossing, twist-filled.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)…


Book cover of Dirty Weekend

Jaq Hazell Why did I love this book?

This is an unusual novel about a woman who decides enough is enough. A predatory voyeuristic neighbour is the final straw for Bella (a woman who has suffered a lifetime of misogyny and abuse). Over one grisly weekend in Brighton she wreaks revenge on any man who happens to look as if they might mistreat her. The prose is stylish, sharp, and snappy but readers might balk at the explicit violence.

By Helen Zahavi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dirty Weekend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bella lives alone in a basement flat. A man threatens rape and mutilation. Trapped and afraid, she finds a way out by adopting a hard and ancient logic. Once embarked on a murderous path of vengeance, there is no stopping her. This is a first novel.


You might also like...

Make Her Pay

By Miranda Rijks,

Book cover of Make Her Pay

Miranda Rijks Author Of The Homemaker

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Reader Mountain-lover

Miranda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A twisty psychological thriller about beautiful, successful Leonie who has just met Markus, the man of her dreams. But Leonie has a secret. Ten years ago, she was involved in an accident in which another driver died. Leonie shouldn’t have been behind the wheel that night – so she fled the scene. And ever since, she’s struggled with the terrible guilt.

Now, as her wedding to Markus draws near, it seems someone is out to get her. It’s little things at first but it soon escalates into a terrifying campaign which threatens her business, her family and even her life. Leonie realizes there’s a link to the accident that happened all those years ago. Someone knows what she did. Someone is determined to make her pay.

Make Her Pay

By Miranda Rijks,

What is this book about?

Leonie has the perfect life. Someone wants to take it away.

Leonie is living her best life. Still in her twenties, she’s beautiful, successful and has just met Markus, the man of her dreams.

But Leonie has a secret. Ten years ago, she was involved in an accident in which another driver died. Leonie shouldn’t have been behind the wheel that night – no license, no insurance – so she fled the scene. And ever since, she’s been struggling to deal with the terrible guilt.

Now, as her wedding to Markus draws near, it seems someone is out to get…


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