Wow. Just wow. This is one of those books which sticks with you after you’ve finished it – and not necessarily in a comfortable way!
There is an awful lot going on within these pages, the depth of the story and the message is huge even though it is dealt with in a sensitive manner. There are so many issues, all given the lightest touch, and all jostling for their time to be considered.
Just the single thread regarding Jodie is a whole massive story on its own – how anyone copes as a teenager these days let alone with a neglectful, alcoholic mother, let alone with facial disfigurement.
Our former barrister, Zara, who now works to support victims of sex crimes, is also worthy of a story of her own as she turns her back on a glittering careers, tries to fight against decades of history and family ‘rules’ in order to tread her own path, all while battling her own demons as she risks everything to support Jodie.
The accused – their story is another one worthy to stand on its own. The complexities of friendships, the weight of responsibility upon their young shoulders.
Then there is the alleged assault. The main crux of the book, it demonstrates beautifully and painfully how incredibly difficult it is to ever prove a rape/sexual assault. I deeply admire those brave souls who endeavour to do so when they are up against the men who lie, the women who lie, the jurors who have their own preconceptions and judicial system which isn’t always stacked fairly.
I am so glad I read this book.
The Victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses four boys of something unthinkable.
The Defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.
Someone is lying.
Former barrister Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, takes up Jodie Wolfe’s case; she believes her, even if those closest to Jodie do not.
Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price?