Girl Detached by Manuela Salvi | Review

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The cover of Girl Detached caught my eye at the library today, and when I saw that it had been banned, my curiosity got the better of me and I picked it up. As you know, I’ve been in an awful reading slump lately, but I read the full book in a couple of hours in one afternoon. It’s one of those stories that completely hooks you in and makes you think about it for hours after. As I mentioned, Girl Detached was banned, and there’s a couple of pages at the end of the book where the new publisher explains what happened. The author is Italian, and originally published the book in Italy, where censors deemed it inappropriate. This resulted in the British company The Bucket List buying the book and publishing it in English. I’m so glad they did, as Girl Detached tells such an important story that needs to be told, and I’d urge you all to read it.

The story follows sixteen year old Aleksandra, who’s entire life changes when her grandmother dies and she has to live with her mother. Aleksandra has a stutter and is extremely shy, and has never felt like she fits in anywhere except when performing with her drama group. That is until she meets Megan, her new neighbour who gives Aleksandra a makeover and introduces her to a whole new world. Megan and her friends are beautiful and confident, and Aleksandra desperately wants to fit in with the group. Whilst at a party with the girls she meets a charismatic older boy, Ruben, who treats her like a princess. He buys her expensive clothes, charms her family and Aleksandra quickly falls in love with him. However, Ruben isn’t as perfect as he seems, and begins expecting Aleksandra to pay him back.

*SOME SPOILERS AHEAD ABOUT THE THEMES OF THE BOOK*

As you may have worked out from the summary, Ruben is grooming Aleksandra. He treats her like he’s in love with her, then gives her drugs and alcohol before taking her to parties and forcing her to strip and prostitute herself for the men there. Aleksandra had such a sheltered life when she lived with her grandmother so she’s very naïve and doesn’t recognise that Ruben’s behaviour is wrong. I really felt a sense of dread and fear reading the story, and like I said, had to keep reading to make sure Aleksandra would be okay.

I think it’s disgusting that the book was banned as it discusses so many important issues that are unfortunately so common in today’s society, like exploitation, abuse and victim blaming. Salvi approaches the issues carefully and respectfully, and never casts judgement on the girls for what happens to them. She makes it clear that they are the victims, and under no circumstances should they be blamed. Aleksandra’s story is something that frequently happens in real life, so I think it’s essential that we have books like this that teach girls and boys that behaviour like Rubin’s is completely wrong. The publishers note summed it up perfectly: “perhaps the censors were uncomfortable with how Girl Detached lays bare society’s attitudes to these issues – where those who are wealthy, privileged and, nearly always, male can silence those who are not.” Thankfully, The Bucket List recognised how important it is to speak out on issues like these, and to ensure victims aren’t silenced.

I would highly recommend Girl Detached to you, I found it to be well-written and interesting, and I’m sure you will too. If you do check it out, please come back and let me know what you thought of it!

P.S, I had this written and ready to be posted on Friday, but my useless internet wouldn’t let me upload it. Sorry for the delay!

 

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