Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer

I am so glad this book is over. This is probably one of the most difficult books I have had to read and not because it is bad. This is a book that you have to take in small doses because of the subject matter. In fact, it’s probably not a book everyone would want to read. The only reason why I read it was because it was this month’s pick for book club, but some of the members have opted out of reading it as well as the discussion that we will have tonight. And yet it is a conversation that we must have.

A report by the Department of Justice report released in December 2014 estimates 110,000 women between the ages of 18 and 24 are raped each year. In this book, Krakauer narrows the focus on Missoula, a college town in Montana, where the DOJ investigated 350 sexual assaults reported to the Missoula police between January 2008 and May 2012.

Through interviews, case reports, victims statements and other source materials, Krakauer delves into what happened in Missoula, which he quickly informs the reader is not unique and provides statistics about the national average and how Missoula falls below. Yet it is still alarming how many cases were reported and how they were handled in Missoula.

This book is not all about the numbers though. Rather, Krakauer lays out a narrative that starts with five individuals and what happens to them. Krakauer’s descriptions are raw and vivid, inevitably forcing the reader to experience the traumatic experience with the victims. As I read these scenes, it made my anxiety skyrocket. I could only read a chapter or two before having to put the book down and find something else to occupy my brain and force myself to calm down.

Krakauer walks the reader through the entire process from the immediate aftermath of the victims trying to move on with their lives, to the reporting of the crime and then the long harrowing process of seeking justice. This is where my anxiety turned to anger. And I mean flat out anger. Reading about how the prosecutor’s handled the cases, or lacked to handle the cases, was INFURIATING!! But as Krakauer goes on to explain, this isn’t unique to just Missoula. In fact, it was mind blowing to find out that 90 percent of the time, the perpetrator gets away with the crime. SERIOUSLY?!

Krakauer also goes on to explain some of the misconceptions about sexual assaults from the cases of false reporting to the behaviors victims exhibit after the trauma.

Overall, I feel like Krakauer did a great job explaining a horrific subject that needs to be talked about. I am looking forward to our discussion at book club tonight. One of our male members was considerate enough to ask the group, which the majority of is female, if we wanted a female-only discussion. However, the group felt that the male perspective was just as important to the discussion. Emotions are going to be flying high tonight but again, it’s an important subject that needs to be discussed.



2 thoughts on “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer

  1. […] Missoula was probably the hardest read I have had to get through in a long time and not because it was bad. It was actually very good and well thought out. What made this difficult was the subject matter of rape, which is right in the subtitle. Krakauer lays out five different cases and drags the reader through the experience from the actual trauma to the trials. I had to constantly take breaks from this book and the rest of my book club felt the same way. They thought Krakauer did a thorough job using source material to describe what happened in Missoula but what happened had our emotions rolling. It made for a very emotional discussion. You can read my review here. […]


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