Saturday, January 14, 2006

Inexcusable, by Chris Lynch

Keir "the Killer" is a senior, football player, and all round "good guy." He's popular, has lots of friends, a great relationship with his Dad, and two wonderful sisters. So, why is Gigi accusing him of raping her? Doesn't she understand that "good guys" can't be rapists? It doesn't make any sense, and Keir now has to prove to her, us, and himself that he really is a good guy.

This is apparently Newbery material this year, so I had pretty high expectations, but I'm going to nix it the same way I did A Room on Lorelei Street. I wanted a story about a sympathetic guy who makes a terrible mistake. I wanted a novel that would show that people who are "good" people can do horrible things to each other. But this isn't that novel. Instead, we get a creep and a jerk who does a horrible thing, we can pat ourselves on the back and say, "See! Only creeps are rapists!" That isn't the message we need repeated in this day and age. And with all the hype this book is getting, that is the message that is going to come out.

The story has plausibility and it had a good sense of what makes Keir tick and why he did what he did, but it was way too obvious and way too convenient. And since he was the only mind we ever got a chance to look at, we get a pretty simple story. And I wanted the story to be more complex, more subtle, and more nuanced. For example, give me a story where the reader - even for a moment - believes that the guy is in the right. Create that moment. And then let the reader be as crushed with guilt as the guy when they realize what they've done. I didn't for a minute sympathize with Keir and I held him (and the book) at arm's length.

A lot to say: but if you've read my other entries, you know that I care a great deal about how sexual violence is portrayed.


Lee said...

You are one of the few people who have an interesting new perspective on this novel.

sarahnyy said...

I personally think that your view of this book is one-sided. Chris Lynch wrote a wonderful novel that shows how girls become victims of date rape. Keir seemed believable as the "good guy" at times, but at other times the reader was given hints about his other side. Chris Lynch not only wanted to show how a male teenager can act at moments of weakness, but also how a girl can fall victim to them. This is a book that all teenagers, male and female, should read!

Josh said...

I agree with the OP. Keir is effeminate, which we correlate with the "good guy". No masculine traits are rewarded and in fact, as we see with the other football players, are cast in a dramatic, unrealistic light. Whether sides exist in rape is debatable. In this book, only one side is shown, despite its claims.