i’m now abandoning my fourth book of the year. the fourth book i’ve stopped reading in (not quite) six weeks because i have a personal policy of not reading books that depict the abuse (physical, sexual, or mental) of children or books that use sexual assault (attempted or otherwise) as a “plot point” for the story development.
i don’t mean plot point as in the main character is a sexual assault survivor and the events are pivotal to the character’s development. i mean we have a relatively good story about magic and demons and the main character (who happens to be female) for absolutely no reason necessary to further the plot or her story is sexually assaulted by a demon. why? it’s not germane to the story. we all know that demons are evil and brutal and evil and mean and evil. why is it necessary for that character to be sexually assaulted?
when did it become fashionable to be stuck at a character development point or a major plot point and reach for physical or sexual abuse? again, i’m not talking about a novel that is focused specifically on those issues; i’m talking about a perfectly good murder mystery that is running along, building tension, and all of a sudden the end is “oh, well, the mom was sexually abused so she was actually abusing her son but nobody knew about it and she was actually the killer because of all the abuse. the end.” wait. what? what does that have to do with anything and where did that come from? we barely even talked about that guy’s mother. that doesn’t make the story more interesting – it actually makes me want to throw the book across the room.
i try to be careful about the books i read. i don’t like westerns, so i don’t read them. i don’t like romances, so i don’t read them. i like a lot of different genres and have really had my eyes opened by a lot of different authors in the past few years. but it’s disturbing to be in the middle of a really good book and suddenly find yourself reading about the main character being sexually assaulted. or reading a graphic description of child abuse. or having either of those being the reason behind a completely peripheral character suddenly being the murderer because reasons.
sexual assault is a brutal, vicious, life changing attack. it isn’t a plot point. it isn’t an interesting way to add angst to a character’s life. it isn’t filler.