The Book of You by Claire Kendal

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An intense thriller, The Book of You by Claire Kendal delivers! I found the writing and subject matter very powerful. The story is about stalking. Clarissa is being harassed by a colleague and she tells  her predator:

” I don’t want you near me. I don’t want to see you, I don’t want   anything to do with you. No form of contact. No letters. No calls.  No gifts. No visits. Don’t come to my house again.” (p.29).

The tension is created as Rafe’s ( the stalker) relentless fixation on her escalates. Clarissa gets little support from a dispatcher at a hot line for abused women. She is instructed to collect more evidence of the harassment and stalking. She follows the instructions from a pamphlet on ways to deter a stalker. Thus, we witness Clarissa as she documents one cruel incident of stalking after another. It is painful to have to save and record all of the horrible things he does that she desperately wants to get away from and forget. But she carefully compiles the “Book of  You” as evidence to stop him.

The only respite Clarissa receives from this psychopath is when she serves on a jury. The federal building offers her protection from his intrusions and so do fellow jurors. One juror in particular, Robert, a fire fighter, has the potential for Clarissa to find comfort and a healthy relationship. Meanwhile the trial, is about a woman drug abuser who is raped, beaten and not believed due her prostitution and drug history, which allows for some parallels between the victim and Clarissa. Clarissa’s accusations are dismissed because of the manipulation by her stalker.

As Clarissa uncovers more information about Rafe, the more frightened she becomes as to his true intentions for her. Even when she follows all her rules to avoid Rafe, he refuses to comply! He sends her fairy tales with hidden threats, goes through her garbage, ambushes her in the park, and enters her apartment without permission. The fairy tales are actually a clever tool in this story as most tales in the past were written for adults and children to remind them of the dangers in the world. Down right scary. Set in England, it was hard to believe that she did not do more to get help and instead becomes more isolated, even from those who could have supported and protected her. I am haunted by the story and think how I would have employed other methods to stop the stalker. She was more naive and intimidated than I would be, and that is my 2 cents.

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