’52 likes’ by Medeia Sharif
17 year old Valerie is raped and goes through hell. But other girls from Miami Gardens High have also been in trouble recently; one found murdered. Is the killer the same person who raped Valerie? Or is Valerie just a slut who asked for the rape herself, like some of the boys say? ’52 likes’ is both mystery and contemporary. In a really good way Valerie’s narrator voice remindeds me a lot of Hannah’s tape-voice in Jay Ashers ‘Thirteen reasons why’. I liked the contemporary part of the novel so much. The mystery solving, not so much.
January 16th 2015
Publisher, this copy:
A bunch of teens from Miami Gardens High have started a new tradition: partying in abandoned houses!
But one evening in a rainy thunderstorm 17 year old Valerie picks the wrong house, and in the empty premises she gets raped by an extremely violent man who appears out of nowhere!
An old homeless man saves her from also being strangled by the rapist, but Valerie’s nightmare is far from over. All night she has to go through police interrogations and rape examination at the hospital, and when she starts high school again, there’s already a rumour going on: about Valerie participating in a gang-bang that got out of control and sent her to hospital.
Even though Valerie’s best friend Cookie stands up for her, a couple of guys make her life at school a living hell. They call her slut, hoe and thot because a half naked picture of her – only for her ex boyfriend to see – were sent in text messages to every mobile on school.
Suddenly new photos appear on Valerie’s mobile. Crops of pictures of naked girls in unnatural postures. Girls have disappeared from Miami Gardens High, one found murdered recently. Is this the same person texting Valerie?
Excerpt from ’52 likes’
Samples are taken from what seems like every part of my body: Under my fingernails, from between my legs – even though I want to keep them shut. Hair is cut, and I won’t get my clothes back, not that I can even use the torn rags that once made a nice outfit. A nurse sees a piece of lint in my hair, and some other woman with gloves picks it off me. My body is a crime scene.
The masked man left vestiges of himself all over me, the way an animal leaves tracks or a burglar leaves fingerprints. But I know how it goes. Not all criminals are found, even when the police work is done by code and the victim is open and willing for justice to be served.
What it’s like after a horrible rape
’52 likes’ begins like a contemporary with detailed descriptions of all the feelings you go through after a rape. It’s a gigantic sea of difficult emotions: sorrow, fear, anger and especially powerlessness, because where do you aim your frustrations when you don’t even know your rapist and assailant?
That part was so well written. All Valeries feelings were absorbed directly into my mind. Of course it’s very understandable that Valerie becomes so depressive that every thought she thinks is about bad experiences she has had in her life, but if the direction of the story hadn’t changed into a mystery about the identity of the rapist, it would also have felt a bit too sad.
Actually, Valerie – as a narrator – reminded me a lot of Hannah’s tape-voice in Jay Ashers ‘Thirteen reasons why’. Maybe even better.
I’ll choose to see it as a contemporary
With a ‘in medias res’ the story was thrilling from the first site, and when the depressive part is over, it gets even more exciting.
Unfortunately I wasn’t impressed by the ending. It shows clearly that plot twists aren’t one of Medeia Sharif’s strengths. It felt almost like middle school fiction; like the end of a ‘The Famous Five’ novel by Enid Blyton.
Because the contemporary part of ’52 likes’ was one the best I’ve read this year, I’ll forget the easy ending and won’t look at the story as a mystery but as a contemporary novel; a stunning and educational one about all the confusing and contradictory emotions you’ll have to live through as a result of long time bullying and a horrible rape.
(Thanks NetGalley for the e-ARC of this novel)