The Red Word

The Red Word

Book - 2018
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"A smart, dark, and take-no-prisoners look at rape culture and the extremes to which ideology can go, The Red Word is a campus novel like no other. As her sophomore year begins, Karen enters into the back-to-school revelry -- particularly at a fraternity called GBC. When she wakes up one morning on the lawn of Raghurst, a house of radical feminists, she gets a crash course in the state of feminist activism on campus. GBC is notorious, she learns, nicknamed "Gang Bang Central" and a prominent contributor to a list of date rapists compiled by female students. Despite continuing to party there and dating one of the brothers, Karen is equally seduced by the intellectual stimulation and indomitable spirit of the Raghurst women, who surprise her by wanting her as a housemate and recruiting her into the upper-level class of a charismatic feminist mythology scholar they all adore. As Karen finds herself caught between two increasingly polarized camps, ringleader housemate Dyann believes she has hit on the perfect way to expose and bring down the fraternity as a symbol of rape culture -- but the war between the houses will exact a terrible price. The Red Word captures beautifully the feverish binarism of campus politics and the headlong rush of youth toward new friends, lovers, and life-altering ideas. With strains of Jeffrey Eugenides's The Marriage Plot, Alison Lurie''s Truth and Consequences, and Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons, Sarah Henstra''s debut adult novel arrives on the wings of furies" --
Publisher: New York , NY :, Black Cat,, 2018.
Edition: First Grove Atlantic edition.
ISBN: 9780802126559
Characteristics: 336 pages ; 21 cm.


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May 09, 2019

Did not leave a good impression about life in sororities and fraternities. Could not even get a grasp on what was really going on but it was not good. Did not stick with me at all.

Apr 09, 2019

Distressing and offensive; for (very) young adults.

Jan 23, 2019

Warning - spoilers. The pacing of this book and its descriptive passages are well done, but beyond that this novel is an appalling mess. I say appalling because Henstra manages to make the frat house that engages in sexual assault less blameworthy than a group of women trying to expose them. She does that by having the plot hinge on the women concocting a harebrained scheme that is simply not credible. The odds it would achieve its goal are poor and the risks associated with it huge. It also requires one of the women to intentionally subject herself to the likelihood of a sexual assault. It's preposterous. The central character is a hypocrite. She's oh-so-eager to room with these committed feminists but prefers to spend her time at the frat house. She has a boyfriend she doesn't seem to like very much while she pines for the frat boy with the worst reputation. She even excuses his attempt at a sexual assault on another woman because she somehow deems it a product of the women's scheme to entrap him! She's not the only one. Even the woman whose sexual assault aftermath Henstra describes in lurid detail forgives the men and is back partying with them later. What's the message here? That given a little incentive all men will rape so let's not blame the poor dears? The entire plot is rife with contradictions, not credible and frequently offensive.

Jan 12, 2019

I found this book very well-written but overly long. It is a compelling story and also an intellectual study and many of the literary references were well beyond my education level. At a certain point I stopped trying to get up to speed and just skimmed over the parts that were sort of beyond me. I would recommend this book for people who have studied literature and myth.

Nov 08, 2018

The ideas are interesting, but I couldn't remember which character was which and, to tell the truth, I didn't care about any of them

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