Review: Robert Uttaro – To the Survivors

To the Survivors
Robert Uttaro

This novel is written by a rape crisis counselor, who has dealt with rape survivors for the last 7 years. He has done events to increase the awareness of rape, and supported the survivor speakers at those events. And now he has written a novel, exposing some of the day-to-day realities of how survivors deal with the world, and how the world can be more sensitive towards them.

The horrifying statistics of rape, for 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 6 men, at least in the USA, should pinprick a readers heart, and then the stories from the survivors themselves will stop your heart from beating. Depending on how sensitive you are feeling that day, you might even find yourself in tears.
This novel is written by a man. Why would you want a book about rape written by a man? All men are rapist, right? Not so. Uttaro makes it abundantly clear that rape is not just for women, or that only women are affected. Men who are raped are less common, but that doesn’t mean they don’t go through the same healing process.
The quality of this novel is in its storytelling within the chapters closer to the end. While the background information on the author is interesting, it is not as keenly occupying as the stories. The text is usually well written and expressed, although there are some sections where I didn’t mind putting the book down. It is not fiction however, and therefore please don’t expect a linear ‘narrative’.
Why might I want to read a novel about rape, of all things? The author himself asked me this question, because my usual reading of things is fiction or fantasy, and this novel is certainly not either of those. It’s about the human story. I love hearing about extremes of the ‘human condition’ – rape, suicide, murder, violence – because I like to know the motives of it, I want to know what it really is like. This novel gets inside the minds of rape survivors and makes it possible for the reader to empathize.
I’d strongly recommend this novel to ALL readers. It’s certainly intended as an adult novel, but I think that mature teenagers should be allowed access to it. Nay, even encouraged to read it. Potentially excerpts could be used in high schools, such as in health and development days. The only way to stigmatize rape and decrease it’s incidence is to TALK ABOUT IT. This novel provides a good starting point for that discussion.

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