Katie Rose Guest Pryal’s Even If You’re Broken (Blue Crow Books) is a collection of essays. It says so right on the cover. I expected, then, that the book would not be one narrative, but rather, many. But as I was reading, I was struck by how seamless the book is — how each essay flows into the next, and how each piece gives perspective to the work that came before and the work that comes after. 

It’s not that the book contains one chronological journey or path. It does not. And it’s not that the book contains only one point of view or perspective. What Even If You’re Broken does is shine a light on the plight of sexual assault victims who report their assault, as well as those who do not. It does so by including the author’s own experiences reporting and not reporting, and then confronting and analyzing several high-profile sexual assault cases including those of Bill Cosby, Kesha and the University of Oregon basketball team. The book also addresses a startling lack of respect for privacy in today’s world. (The chapter entitled “Nightmare Room” should make every single reader look over his/her shoulder.) The tone of the book is pragmatic and methodical, even though the subject matter is at times gruesome and terrible.  

The author shares with us a unique expertise on this topic — first, having been the victim of sexual assault at the age of 13 and, later, as a grad student, and then as a lawyer with an objective understanding of certain laws that are seemingly in place to penalize victims of sexual assault. Pryal explains how many laws employed during sexual assault cases exist for different reasons altogether, but have been used — and at times misused — in these sensitive cases. She weighs in on the legal arguments and the nuances of these cases as both a lawyer and a survivor. Pryal even discloses a psychiatric disability that has prevented her from pursuing legal action for fear it would be used against her to “destroy [her] credibility.” Her experience, she says, is a “world of stigma and bigotry” and this makes her story an important one. 

Against the contemporary backdrop of the #MeToo movement and Title IX, Pryal’s book takes a significant place in the discussion, demanding to be seen and heard, giving a voice to survivors whose bravery is often overlooked just because they are silent.  

 At the end of the book, the author notes where some chapters appeared previously, in whole or in part, in other publications. In other words, the author has composed this story in bits and pieces over the years, and then put it all together in one healing package in the form of Even If You’re Broken

I felt humbled and grateful to share Pryal’s whole story now. I highly recommend you read it too.

Buy this book!

Katie Rose Guest Pryal, J.D., Ph.D., is a bestselling author, speaker and law professor. She’s written four novels: EntanglementChasing ChaosFallout Girl and Take Your Charming Somewhere Else. She is a columnist for Women in Higher Education, where she covers gender issues, labor, and academia. Her popular column for Catapult magazine, “Mom, Interrupted,” is about family life, mental illness and raising disabled kids as a disabled parent. Her column “Public Writing Life” for the Chronicle of Higher Education advises academics who wish to transition to writing for public audiences. She is a frequent speaker on topics such as mental health and disability, writing and publishing, gender issues and higher education.