girlA Beautiful Memoir On Living Past Trauma




By Laura Gray-Rosendale
SUNY Press, 271 pages, $24.95

Laura Gray-Rosendale presents an analysis of the circumstances surrounding her rape as an undergraduate student. From the college girl she was before the incident, all the way through the lengthy process of recovery, Laura’s story is a beautifully written exploration of trauma and the way it is remembered.

As Laura moves on, she becomes involved in helping other survivors do the same. Her resolution to understand the rape, spurs her to find the information that ultimately makes this a unique self-reflection, with the understanding that a wholly complete and linear chain of events can never be established.

“Our stories are necessarily always about slippages, about what we know as much as what we don’t know. Our writings reinforce the fact that personal narratives should not just be understood as products but also as processes.”


Various strands make up this complex weave. The first part of the book is Laura’s own recollections supported by snippets of journal entries. More facts are presented through the files in the DA’s office, bringing in the legal struggle and the law’s version of the crime. The significant gaps in time are supplemented by the stories of those who were witnesses and the way that night impacted their own lives. College Girl is an unforgettably sharp glimpse into not just one woman’s struggle with the emotional consequences of rape, but the role it plays in the life of anyone associated with the incident.

Reviewed by Isabel Hernandez

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