Fault Line by Christa Desir | Book Review




book synopsis Ben falls fast for the new girl in school — Ani. She’s brutally honest and totally not like all the other girls he knows. In a whirlwind fashion, they start dating and everything is perfect until the party…the party that Ben doesn’t attend. The party where Ani gets raped but doesn’t remember a thing. Rumors are circulating about the details — Ani was shouting about how she wanted them, that maybe it was date rape drugs, she was wasted — and nobody knows what really happened and who is to blame. When Ani pushes Ben away and starts acting out, Ben tries to help her and is met with resistance because Ani doesn’t want to be saved.

good books to readI have ALL sorts of feelings about this book. WOW. What a book. It was a our book club pick and we had A LOT to talk about because it brought up a lot of things. I don’t think that I liked this as much as other people did, as there were some things that just didn’t work for me, but I still think that it’s an important story with good things about it that I couldn’t put down.

What I Liked:

* The POV: I loved that this perspective was male and from someone who wasn’t the victim. I’ve read quite a few books dealing with rape and it’s always from the victim’s perspective, no doubt an important perspective, but this immediately hooked me because of the fact it was from the perspective of the victim’s boyfriend. I had never read that perspective and found myself thinking, “WHY has this not been done before?” because it’s also an important view to see from people who love and want to help someone when they experience this. I thought it brought up a lot of interesting things to see everything happening from his angle — to see her change and the effects the rape had on her and their relationship but to not be in tune with the inner turmoil she was going through. It added a lot to the story, I felt, and made me think of the struggles that victim’s loved ones also go through in trying to help them through it. I felt Ben’s helplessness and feeling like he just didn’t know WHAT to do. It felt realistic and honest and I appreciated the story being told from his perspective.

* The story itself: My heart was very invested in the idea of this story with some reservations with the characters which I’ll discuss below. Watching this all unravel my heart hurt for both Ani and Ben. To see the before and the after through someone elses eyes and see Ben try so hard to help her as she just is reeling from the rape and pushing him away.  The story was totally soul crushing because the sad reality is this kind of thing happens probably more than we know. All Ani’s actions made my heart hurt and Ben’s struggle to hold on to her was hard to watch…especially at the end. I felt like it was very evident that the author’s background in rape crisis enhanced this story because Ani and Ben’s struggles and reactions seemed very realistic. It was a very powerful story about that “after” and how it affects various people involved and, for Ani, she was stuck in this cycle of blame and guilt and left with all these questions unable really deal with it.

* The discussion that comes from this book: This was definitely a powerful book to make you think and I loved the discussion that it brought up because it is so, so relevant and important. Ani knows she was raped and she can’t remember what happened and only knows what she’s told (the details which make her look to others that she was completely wanting this) and is completely being tormented at school because of what went down. A lot of the conversation and the struggles for both Ani and Ben are if a) she was slipped a date rape drug b) if she got super drunk and was acting “slutty” and maybe a c) is if she just is a “slut”  and wasn’t actually raped at all — all sorts of victim blaming stuff. It was the one thing in the story, and I think in life, that people get hung up on. Does it make it better if it was one or the other? Does it make it easier to handle? Does it change it? Do people feel more sympathy for someone who gets slip date rape drugs vs. someone who got crazy drunk and got raped? Who is to blame? It’s an endless conversation that we even see in the media. “She was asking for it by how she was dressed.” “She got drunk and was flirty and came on to me” “She was drunk but she wasn’t passed out.” I just thought seeing this play out in the story brought up all the relevant news stories I’ve see and things I’ve even heard in high school and college. Fault Line was one of the bravest and most powerful books that really brought this discussion to the table.

What didn’t work for me:

* The romance/development of it:  I know this book wasn’t really ABOUT the romance but it was hard for me to really FEEL why Ben cared so much and hung on because I didn’t see much substance to their relationship. Yes, some young relationships are not based on substantial things but they literally knew nothing about each other and suddenly they were together. She said his hair made him look like an asshole, he thought she had legs for days (that and her honesty seemed to be the two things that made him head over heels for her) and then suddenly she invites him over and they are a couple. We do see a little bit of their beginnings but it just wasn’t much for me. It was difficult for me to care for either characters or their relationship, beyond what I knew I should feel, because there was barely any build up so, while I liked the IDEA of their story, I just felt some sort of disconnect.

During book club we were talking about how maybe there would have been more of an impact had the story been about two people who had dated for longer or at least more of a back story for us to get to KNOW them and see that spark. Ben pretty much gives up everything as he struggles to attempt to save her and it never made sense to me WHY. I never felt it and thus it took me out of the story A LOT — despite how important and powerful the discussion from this book was and how emotional I DID get at the end.

I will say I had NO idea how I felt at the end of this book as a WHOLE but I was teary eyed for Ben and for the very realistic and bittersweet ending.

* the length of this book: Okay so maybe it’s not so much the length, because for how short it brought a lot to the table, but it was more how because of the length I felt some things/characters were underdeveloped and it really detracted (including my above point). There were random people that I thought would be more important that were just kind of dropped. There were things just half developed in my mind and left dangling. A lot of the other characters were hazily developed to me, and I know they WEREN’T the focus of this, but I just would have liked to see a wee bit more development in the secondaries. I DID love  Ben’s friend though (his name is escaping me) and thought he was one of the best.

book reviewsWhile it seems like on paper there were more things that I LIKED about this book than didn’t like, my “didn’t work for me” list items unfortunately made me disconnect a lot from the story. It was a powerful and provocative novel that explored an important and relevant topic that is an ongoing discussion in society from the perspective of the victim’s boyfriend. There were a lot of good things about this book, no doubt, but the underdevelopment unfortunately pulled me out too much from the story and frustrated me — distracting me from what was great about it.

short book reviewfault-line-christa-desair


books you may also likeWhat Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

for-fans-of-bookbooks about tough issues, books opening an honest discussion about rape, books that will give you lots of food for thought, flawed and honest characters

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one or heard of it? What did you think of it? This is a very interesting book for discussion so I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!!

The Perpetual Page-Turner


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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I read this last month and I felt pretty much the same way about it. I loved having the different POV and my heart was ripped to shreds by the end. But I also thought it could have benefited from more pages and more build up in terms of their relationship. Great review Jamie!

    • YES I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt that way because there was SO much I really liked about this book and think it’s important! SIGH. It was very hard writing this review because of it!

  2. I really appreciate your review for this because I’ve been on the fence about reading it or not. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the POV and the topic, as you mentioned, but most reviews I’ve read pointed out at least a few issues. I think I might hold off on this one for now and see if the library will get a copy in. I’ve noticed(when I’ve seen this book in stores) just how thin it is too, and I wondered if it was enough space to adequately develop everything. Definitely sounds like this book could have benefited from being longer.

    • Yeah, it would definitely be a book I would borrow to be honest! I’ve seen plenty of people I trust LOVE it (and I get why in many ways) but if you think the issue of development may be a problem for you…borrowing is your safest bet!

  3. What a really well-written and thought-out review! I think your main negative would be a huge issue for me because I can’t handle stories where the characters’ actions don’t make sense to me. Great job!

    • Thanks Emily! It was just so hard with this one because they had barely known each other and he letting his life and all the important things fall to crap in his attempts to save this girl he barely knew and it was hard to me to see what was so strongly holding him there for him to do that.

  4. You’re featured on my blog showcase today!

  5. I’m so glad you read this one, Jamie! I think what worked for me with Ben was his guilt. Ultimately, he blamed himself a lot for not attending the party and therefore felt some sort of responsibility for Ani. That’s at least what I got from it!

  6. It’s been soooooooo long since I’ve read this, like before getting my new job.

    I really liked Fault Line, from my expert perspective, I thought it was really accurate, especially with it’s portrayal of trauma and victim blaming. Trauma affects people in different ways and I think that she did a good job with not only Ani’s trauma, but Ben’s trauma.

  7. Sounds intriguing, I love the cover!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  8. Unlike you, I did not take issue with the fact that Ben didn’t know Ani super well before the rape happened. As readers, we know that he feels enough interest and attraction to her to try and make a relationship work. It’s a perspective that needed to be added to this genre–rape /sexual assault can happen to people regardless of their relationship status. There’s probably a book that deals with a boy who’s been with a girl for a long time coping with her being sexually assaulted, and there are books about what happens if a person is sexually assaulted and meets someone knew after (I’m thinking of a book we both read in 2013 and if you don’t know what I’m referring to, you can DM me on Twitter, but it’s too spoilery to share the title here). Desir offers a fresh perspective that needs to exist. I think he tries to stay with her afterwards because he feels responsible.

    I wish I could have been at your book club discussion. Desire is a gifted author, and there’s a lot to unpack here. I’m really excited to read BLEED LIKE ME, her 2014 book.

  9. I adored this book. It was actually a very therapeutic read for me because I’ve been in Ben’s position (except with a friend) and I found the portrayal of both Ben and Ani quite accurate. I never really noticed the relationship (or lack thereof) between the two, but looking back I’d agree with you on that one. He obviously had some sort of need to save people/Ani, which is probably why he got attached so easily. It would have been nice had there been more substance/depth to the relationship. But overall, I thought it was an incredible book and I think it’ll help a lot of people going through similar situations.

  10. I totally understand your reaction to this book. I’ve had a copy for a couple of months now, and I’m so hesitant to read it. I know it’ll be good, and its a story that desperately needs to be read and discussed; the subject matter is just going to be unsettling, so I suppose I’m mentally steeling myself for that beforehand. But thanks for the positive outlook on it overall- I’ll get to it eventually, and hope that soon rape and victim stigma won’t be an issue.

  11. Having the perspective from someone who wasn’t the victim was a nice way of getting a different view. I also liked that Ben was trying to help but didn’t know how. And that he cared but it’s so hard to deal with. It’s not pretty necessarily, but I thought it was real and painful.

    The discussion is the best part. Whatever you think about it, it IS something you have to think about it. Not cut-and-dry. Faking Normal’s like that too, though I didn’t enjoy that one as much.

    Awww, I know a lot of people felt that way about the relationship, but there was enough for me. More wouldn’t have hurt, though. I think it was because of the honesty bit.

    My biggest issue was actually Ani’s mom. She doesn’t seem to notice Ani changing, but they were supposedly close. Like, what?


  1. […] Fault Line by Christa Desir – This book also tackles the important topic of sexual assault and is told from the point of view of a male protagonist named Ben.  When Ben’s girlfriend Ani attends a party without him, something terrible happens, and she is quickly labeled The Slut Who Asked For it.  What’s happened to Ani?  What can Ben do next?  A powerful book that will generate a lot of conversations. […]