Nina is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi

nina.pngIt doesn’t get much grittier or realistic than this. I am sure this will echo with quite a few readers, especially the ones who can relate to Nina’s life on a more personal level.

The relationship between Nina and her mother is pivotal. She feels abandoned by her mother, is reluctant to accept the new father figure in her life, but clearly dotes on her baby sister. Their plans revolve around what is best for her step-father and her mother.

Apparently being 17 going on 18 also means you can throw someone out of the nest. Like an animal being cast out of the herd. Of course the truth is age is just a number and doesn’t necessarily mean maturity.

Perhaps if Mom had been less involved with herself and her future plans she might have been able to help Nina sooner. In fact she should have asked more questions and been more concerned the day Nina came home in that state in the taxi.

Khorsandi’s story is bold. Unfortunately it is a vivid and true image of our society at the moment. One would think that in the 21st century sexual assault would finally be perceived differently, and the reactions to it should be more about victim support and less about victim blaming. Unfortunately that still isn’t the case. Something which is painfully clear in this book.

Zoe’s reaction is shameful, deplorable and all too common. Instead of questioning the actions of her boyfriend, she sets out to shame her friend. There really is no excuse for putting images and videos of sexual assaults or indecent images of victims online. It should be punished by law and that includes sharing them. If Nina had been under 16 years of age it would be considered to be an illegal offence.

The most interesting part of the story is Nina’s reaction to the events. She is quite willing to accept the global view that as a girl she is just out of control. She is easy, she’s a slut, she’s a whore and hey she is totally up for it. Oh wait I forgot, it is her fault because she had a drink.

Not once does any man/boy say let’s not, because you have had a little too much to drink. No one questions why she is clearly out of control or losing the plot. The combination of a genetic disposition, her family history and the events in the alley are all contributing factors in her downwards spiral.

It takes Nina a long time to comprehend what happened to her. To acknowledge the ugly truth about the events in the alley. To take the blame placed firmly upon her shoulders by others and putting it where it belongs, on the shoulders of the abusers.

I wish I could say Nina’s situation is just fiction and a great idea for a book. It isn’t, this is the reality of sexual assault, rape and abuse in our day and age. A society of people who have no idea what No means, and certainly have no clue that if the woman/man you’re with has not given their consent then you’re committing rape. Unconscious does not mean yes. Being so drunk you have no idea what is going on does not mean yes.

Be prepared for bare truths and no attempt at candy floss cover-ups. It is a book I will be recommending because of the way Khorsandi doesn’t gloss over the truth.

Buy Nina is Not Ok at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.