Book Review: The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess

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None of us can understand what’s going on in another person’s life from the outside looking in. No one can really see the quiet you carry, unless you let them.

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Order On Amazon

Price: $11.12 (paperback)

Publisher: North Star Editions

Plot Summary:

Victoria Parker knew her dad’s behavior toward her was a little unusual, but she convinced herself everything was fine—until she found herself locked out of the house at 3:00 a.m., surrounded by flashing police lights.

Now, dumped into a crowded, chaotic foster home, Victoria has to tiptoe around her domineering foster mother, get through senior year at a new school, and somehow salvage her college dreams . . . all while keeping her past hidden.

But some secrets won’t stay buried—especially when unwanted memories make Victoria freeze up at random moments and nightmares disrupt her sleep. Even worse, she can’t stop worrying about her stepsister Sarah, left behind with her father. All she wants is to move forward, but how do you focus on the future when the past won’t leave you alone?

Grade: A

Review:

From the acknowledgments, the reader soon learns that the author herself, much like her character Victoria, was put into Foster Care in Nevada (although unlike her character she was much younger, at 12 yrs. old). I think this is why she’s capable of giving one of the best and authentic novelizations about how the foster care system works and how the kids who end up in them are treated by their foster parents and social workers. Unlike other books that I’ve read about foster care, the protagonist Victoria doesn’t end up in it due to an unexpected death, but rather because her own father delivers a lie about her to cover up a very scary truth about himself and what he did to his daughter. Some of you may imagine what that ugly truth could possibly be, but I’d rather keep this review spoiler free, besides, Victoria doesn’t fully reveal all the details of that fateful night till almost halfway through the novel.

Victoria’s journey was very heartbreaking, but I loved how the friendships in this novel were top-notch. I’m kind of over novels or films always depicting female friendships as being petty and mean, and I love how Christina was so full of love for Victoria and stuck by her through thick and thin. Even her boyfriend, Kale, was a gem, who truly loved her despite the odds being against them. What I loved about this book is that all the characters were layered so even people you may have perceived as awful when you first encountered them, turned out to be better people, and those that seemed okay at first were revealed to not be so. Again, this book isn’t for the faint of heart because of the subject matter that is very trigger-worthy so tread lightly if you’re someone who’s easily triggered by the following topics: sexual assault, abuse, suicide, and self-harm, as those, are only a few things that are mentioned and played out throughout the novel.

But despite the dark winding tunnel that we find ourselves in with Victoria, there’s some light at the end. And that light, that hope, is what makes this novel absolutely stunning.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and North Star Editions for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Asia Argento: “Jimmy Bennett raped me.”

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Asia Argento and former child star Jimmy Bennett

The saga between Asia Argento and Jimmy Bennett seems to be one of those train wrecks that we can’t bring ourselves to look away from. One of the reasons is because every day new allegations and discoveries are made that the truth is slowly getting muddied up in drama.

To recap, Jimmy Bennett claims that Asia Argento sexually assaulted him when he was seventeen and for several months had been extorting her for money (which the late Anthony Bourdain gave in hopes of keeping him quiet and from disclosing a very incriminating photo).

The photo was recently disclosed which depicted Argento in bed with Bennett, both of them looking blissful, basking in the afterglow of their recent romp.

GENTE ASIA  ARGENTO  Y  JIMMY BENNET FOTO TMZ

This photo discredited Argento’s claim that she hadn’t had sex with Bennett at all (which even if consensual could still be seen as statutory rape because he was 17 at the time, and she was 37, and the age of consent in California is 18).

To also discredit Argento’s claim was non-binary model Rain Dove’s leak of their texts where Dove asked Argento if she had sex with the minor and she replied with, “Yes, it felt weird. I didn’t know he was a minor till the shakedown letter.” This was enough proof for Italy’s X-Factor to fire Argento from her judge role and for CNN to pull any episodes of Bourdain’s Parts Unknown where the actress appears.

Rose McGowan, who is dating Dove, has distanced herself from her former friend and urged her to tell the truth and act the way she wished disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein should’ve acted. Argento and McGowan are no longer on speaking terms.

In retaliation, Argento called Dove a “monster” for selling her private texts to TMZ, and McGowan a “liar.”

Now, Argento’s attorney is claiming that the actress was actually the one to be sexually assaulted by Bennett (which is something she DID say to Dove in the leaked texts where she wrote, “The horny kid jumped me,”). Although when Dove questioned to clarify in the texts if Argento had been raped she wrote back, “It wasn’t rape but I was frozen. He was on top of me. After, he told me that I had been his sexual fantasy since (he) was 12.”

A note written to Argento by Bennett using the hotel’s stationery from the day of the infamous encounter reads: Asia, I love you with all my heart. So glad we met again and I’m so glad your in my life. – Jimmy (ending with a smiley)

The saga gets even more intricate when recent discoveries have been made where Bennett’s ex-girlfriend had issued a restraining order against him in July 2015 due to stalking. His ex-girlfriend hadn’t gone to the police just for the stalking, but also because she wanted to press charges against Bennett for having sex with a minor (she was 17, and he 18) and child pornography. She explained that Bennett had talked her into having sex with him and that he had manipulated her into sending nude photos of herself in which she stated, “Caused me emotional harm by leaking them via Snapchat.” The ex also confirmed that she feared for her safety when she got back with her ex-boyfriend because Bennett threatened to “get back at her,” if she did.

Bennett who blames Argento for his lack of employment due to the trauma that she caused him by having sex with him, probably doesn’t want to acknowledge the simple truth that as a child actor transitioning into adulthood, like many others before him, he probably just didn’t make the cut.

So what can we learn from said train wreck of a saga? That Argento most likely did get raped by Weinstein. That Bourdain did pay Bennett to keep him quiet because he didn’t want a scandal to erupt. That Argento and Bennett did have sex. That Argento denied having sex. That most likely said sex was consensual between the two parties, but Argento being the adult in the situation shouldn’t have partaken in any sexual activities with a minor no matter how much he may have seemed consensual at the time. That Bennett was facing harsh economic issues due to his parents having spent most of his child acting money and now blames Argento for his lack of adulthood success.

Maybe if both parties would begin to say the truth then perhaps this mess could actually get resolved. But as it stands, this scandal is going to keep on piling on nuances worthy of the best soap opera.

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Asia Argento: When The Victim becomes the Perpetrator

asia5An obliterating bomb exploded last Sunday when The New York Times published a piece about Asia Argento claiming that the Italian actress reportedly paid $380K to former child star and co-star Jimmy Bennett for an incident that occurred at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina Del Rey, CA in May 2013. The young actor was 17 at the time of the alleged sexual assault by Argento, who was then 37.

The two first met when Argento cast Bennett as the young version of Jeremiah for her movie adaptation of JT Leroy’s The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. Throughout the years the two had remained close and would be seen interacting with one another on Twitter and Instagram.

On May 9, of 2013, the two agreed to meet up in Marina Del Rey, CA, their meeting was captured by a series of photos that the actress posted on Instagram where the two looked visibly happy to be in the company of one another.

However, Bennett claims that Argento had him drink alcohol for then to have her perform oral sex on him, which later lead to sex. Bennett at the time this incident was 17. The age of consent in California is 18. Long after this encounter, the two were seen interacting on social media, similarly to how she remained still in contact with her own abuser, Harvey Weinstein.

 

So what does this all mean in light of the #MeToo movement? I don’t think the actions of one individual should be used as a way to discredit the work that many of the other survivors have been doing in the past few months. It also doesn’t change the fact that Argento herself was a victim of rape, however, it also doesn’t give her a free pass to essentially assault minors. And that’s where the problem lies, because whether or not Bennett at the time of the incident had either consented or not (he hasn’t
come out with a statement in regards to these accusations), he was still a minor at the time of the incident and that in itself is legally a crime.

The #MeToo movement was initially started to help women of color who had been sexually assaulted and turned into a worldwide movement when actresses Rose McGowan, Rosanna Arquette, and Argento herself became the most prominent voices behind the movement in light of the Harvey Weinstein rape scandal.

Now, many are distancing themselves from Argento, whilst her friends McGowan and Arquette are showing their support. But this double standard can be harmful to the movement, making people erroneously believe that such a movement is riddled with hypocrisy. But that can only cause harm to victims if we’re going to discredit a movement simply because one individual’s actions were appalling.

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A photo of Bennette that Argento took on May 9, 2013, the day of the alleged assault at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina Del Rey, CA

The bottom line is: adults should never use their position of power to coerce or persuade a minor into sex, no matter what their history or relationship with that person may be.

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*At the point of publication of this post, Argento was said to have told freelance journalist Yashar Ali that she had “Never had any sexual relationship with Bennett,” and was “deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false.”

The actress also went to point out that Bennett was “undergoing severe economic problems,” and that he knew that her boyfriend, TV chef Anthony Bourdain, “was of great perceived wealth.”

The New York Times story was based on documents that they received from an unidentified source via encrypted email.

What does this all mean? That clearly this case is going to have more twists and turns so keep your seatbelts on.

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The Best Books & Films to Support Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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In light of the #metoo movement, April has been declared as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and to help celebrate and bring awareness to Sexual Assault, I wish to share some films and books that depict sexual assault in a realistic manner instead of glorifying rape culture. The books and films selected below focus on the psychological, emotional, and physical scars that one carries when they’re a victim of sexual assault. These books and films don’t solely focus on women getting revenge (ala I Spit On Your Grave) or being too crippled to rise up, but rather they explore the complexities of the aftermath of a sexual assault and the road to healing.

Books:

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She’s Come Undone – Wally Lamb

Dolores Price’s life is never the same after her rape. She begins to use food as a way to comfort her pain, and so she spends her days in front of the TV devouring Mallomars and other junk food till she reaches the hefty weight of 257 pounds. But Dolores wishes to live life, despite the fact that her actions would indicate otherwise. Dolores’ journey is both heartbreaking and inspiring.

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Speak – Laurie Halse Andersen

There’s a reason why this YA was a National Book Award Finalist, Melinda’s frightening assault at a party where she ends up calling the police (and thus making her the school pariah for being considered a snitch) is utterly relatable to any teenager who has ever had to look out for themselves at a party. Melinda’s assault causes her to lose her will to speak. She’s friendless and lonely, but slowly she begins to heal and with healing, she finds her voice and the courage to name her assaulter.

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The Way I Used To Be – Amber Smith

What happens when the older boy you have a crush on rapes you? Eden’s journey of how assault affects her future relationships, her friendships, and her relationship with her family is heartbreaking and poignant. This novel shows how the effects of trauma can last a lifetime, and only when she has the courage to confront her rapist does she finally get the inner peace she’s been lacking since that fateful night.

Films:

Precious

Hard Candy

Boys Don’t Cry

What books or films have you seen on sexual assault that you think was done right? Do you agree with this list? Comment below!

If you or anyone you know is a victim of sexual assault please refer to the following hotlines for help:

Safe Horizon – 212-227-300

https://hotline.rainn.org – To call or chat with a professional

DoD Safe Helpline (for military members and spouses) – https://www.safehelpline.org/

By: Azzurra Nox

Asia Argento: From Victim to Whore

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Despite the fact that the majority of people are appalled over the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Asia Argento seems to be getting the short stick of solidarity in her own home country, Italy. After Ronan Farrow’s lengthy article about the movie mogul for The New Yorker went viral, most people reached out in support of the victims. The opposite effect happened to Asia Argento in Italy. Not only was she victim blamed and ridiculed, but major Italian newspapers ran articles with titles such as, “First they gave it away, and twenty years later they whine,” (referring to all the actresses that had been sexually harassed and/or raped). If that alone doesn’t make your skin crawl with anger, you must not have a heart or conscience.

The Italian public has always seemed to have an unspoken dislike for actress Asia Argento since the very beginning of her career. I don’t know if it has to do with bearing an important last name (her father is the famed master of horror, director Dario Argento) that has led to the hate, but it’s always been there. For years people questioned her talent, stating that she was only getting roles because of her famous dad (despite the fact that she’s won TWO Davide di Donatello awards, the Italian equivalent of an Academy Award). There’s always been a certain jealousy surrounding her because her father wasn’t just famous in Italy, but worked with many actors in America and was considered a huge influence on the horror genre worldwide.

Another reason the Italian public has always had issues with her is because she’s always been open about her sexuality (and somehow in a patriarchal society, that is frightening). And I don’t think her public image ever truly recovered from the time actor Sergio Rubini pursued her whilst still married to Italy’s beloved actress Margherita Buy.

Are all these reasons valid to drag Asia Argento into the mud for actually speaking up on a harrowing incident? NO. And yet, the likes of Selvaggia Lucarelli (famous Italian journalist) and Vladimir Luxuria (famous transgender member of the Communist Refoundation Party and LGBT activist) have ruthlessly attacked, bullied, and ridiculed the actress for speaking up, ultimately trying to pass her off as an attention whore, or just plain whore.

Both Selvaggia Lucarelli and Vladimir Luxuria should be ashamed for shaming a rape victim. The violent backlash that Asia has had is sickening and proves time and time again exactly WHY women often don’t report rape or sexual harassment.

Rape is rape.

And Asia Argento is a victim of rape and as such should be applauded for her courage, not demeaned.

By: Azzurra Nox