Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl

A Memoir

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A New York Times Editors’ Choice and Best Book of the Year at TIME, Esquire, Amazon, Kirkus, and Electric Literature

Jeannie Vanasco has had the same nightmare since she was a teenager. It is always about him: one of her closest high school friends, a boy named Mark. A boy who raped her. When her nightmares worsen, Jeannie decides—after fourteen years of silence—to reach out to Mark. He agrees to talk on the record and meet in person.

Jeannie details her friendship with Mark before and after the assault, asking the brave and urgent question: Is it possible for a good person to commit a terrible act? Jeannie interviews Mark, exploring how rape has impacted his life as well as her own.

Unflinching and courageous, Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl is part memoir, part true crime record, and part testament to the strength of female friendships—a recounting and reckoning that will inspire us to ask harder questions, push towards deeper understanding, and continue a necessary and long overdue conversation.


  • Bold, unsettling, and timely. . . . A reckoning with injustice.


  • Gorgeous, harrowing, heartbreaking.


  • About violence and forgiveness, about friendship and the unwanted title of victim, about digging deeper and deeper to seek answers.

    —The New York Times Book Review

  • A cuttingly funny meta-meditation on her own pain in the context of #MeToo.

    —O, The Oprah Magazine

  • A remarkably nuanced account of the complicated and confusing emotions that surface when your rapist is someone you knew and trusted.

    —The Cut

  • About how important it is to speak about these oft-silenced experiences that cause so many to feel ashamed, scared, and alone.


  • A stunning work of meta nonfiction. . . . Vanasco’s narrative pushes far past the flattened media narrative of Me Too and asks uncomfortable questions about how to talk about rape culture, toxic masculinity and gender, justice, and resilience.


  • Perhaps the most important book of the season.


  • Utterly brilliant.

    —Book Riot

  • Thought-provoking, unmooring, and haunting.


  • Striking. . . . Creates a language for something we don’t talk about.

    —The Paris Review

  • Heartfelt, painful, and essential.

    —Shelf Awareness

  • A gripping read and true fodder for the necessary reckoning with toxic masculinity.


  • Vanasco immediately makes you wonder how we can take so much about sexual assault for granted.

    —The Times Literary Supplement

  • Intrepid. . . . A work that has the potential to change the way we think and talk about rape and the people who commit it.


  • Sets the canon of #MeToo-era creative nonfiction on fire. . . . Inimitable.

    —Booklist, Starred Review

  • An extraordinarily brave work of self- and cultural reflection.

    —Kirkus, Starred Review

  • Exactly the book we need right now. . . . I wish everyone in this country would read it.

    —Melissa Febos, author of Abandon Me

  • Stunning.

    —Angela Pelster, author of Limber

  • A literary feminist miracle.

    —Sophia Shalmiyev, author of Mother Winter

  • Brilliant.

    —Megan Stielstra, author of The Wrong Way to Save Your Life

  • Vanasco is a formidable talent.

    —Daniel Gumbiner, author of The Boatbuilder

  • An essential, unforgettable work.

    —Erik Anderson, author of Flutter Point

  • There is so much power in these pages.

    —Elissa Washuta, author of My Body is a Book of Rules

  • Interrogates the terms of betrayal and the limits of redemption.

    —Tim Taranto, author of Ars Botanica

  • A rigorous and nuanced investigation.

    —Lisa Locascio, author of Open Me

  • Wickedly clever and powerful.

    —Krystal A. Sital, author of Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad

  • Cuts through the silence of deep betrayal.

    —Amy Jo Burns, author of Shiner

  • Astonishingly fierce.

    —Emily Geminder, author of Dead Girls and Other Stories

  • Explores the common experience of rape with uncommon nuance and intense tenderness.

    —YZ Chin, author of Though I Get Home