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The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  618 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
In this searing and surprising memoir, Samantha Geimer, "the girl" at the center of the infamous Roman Polanski sexual assault case, breaks a virtual thirty-five-year silence to tell her story and reflect on the events of that day and their lifelong repercussions.

In this searing and surprising memoir, Samantha Geimer, “the girl” at the center of the infamous Roman Polanski
Hardcover, 265 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Atria Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Dec 10, 2013 Kelly (and the Book Boar) rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
Find all of my reviews at:

Since 1977 people have speculated about what really happened to “The Girl” Roman Polanski took to Jack Nicholson’s house. Was she a willing participant? Did her mother hand to over in order to advance her own/her husband’s/her daughter’s career? Was Polanski a predator who focused on young girls? Thirty-five years after that fateful trip up Mulholland Drive, Samantha Geimer (“The Girl”) finally tells the story in her own words.

That voy
Lee Anne
Sep 21, 2013 Lee Anne rated it liked it
I could not wait to read this book, due to my long, complicated, imaginary relationship with Roman Polanski. I can't remember which came first, in a chicken or egg way: did I read Helter Skelter first (I think I was in tenth grade), or see a picture of Polanski in US Weekly or Newsweek (the two magazines my parents subscribed to in the early 80s, both of which were a formative part of my growing up), and seeing how cute he was (no kidding; his tiny, elfin foreignness was like catnip to my teenag ...more
Sep 30, 2015 Cristi rated it liked it
Wow, just wow. What did I just read? Several hundred pages in which the author blames everyone but her rapist for the messy stuff that happens as a result of her rape? Why is she so quick to forgive Polanski but holds grudges against the media and the justice system? I understand her desire to put it all past her and live a normal life, but it was Polanski who robbed her of her normalcy, and it is Polanski who still evades justice. Infuriating. Heartbreaking. And fascinating. I'm glad I read it, ...more
Nov 12, 2013 Rachel rated it it was ok
Samantha Geimer is incredibly brave, and I admire her so much for telling her story and reclaiming her voice after having it so repeatedly taken from her over the years.

However, I was disturbed to read the moments in which she slips into victim-blaming, judging the veracity of other survivors and employing some of the same arguments (it was a different, more lenient time; sometimes things are just misunderstandings; maybe they're coming forward for the publicity, etc) that were used against her.
Susan Bazzett-griffith
2.5 stars. I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. It was sent by Atria Books.

This book is, on one hand, completely fascinating. As someone who was not terribly familiar with the Polanski case other than in the broadest of terms (and someone who somewhat sheepishly loves US Weekly), I found the events themselves riveting, and I could not put it down for the entire first half (I read the entire book in one day). The first half reads somewhat like a long US Weekly interview.

On the other hand, t
Aphra Behn
Dec 09, 2013 Aphra Behn rated it it was amazing
"The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski" is powerful. Samantha Geimer has a "tell it like it is" voice and comes right to the point. Her story is compelling and strongly told. After so many years she says it her way. This book stayed with me for a long time.
Apr 09, 2014 Debbie rated it really liked it
This book falls into a category that seems to be one I like to dip into a lot. It's a well-written story of a horrible crime. Samantha Gailey is two weeks younger than I am. When she was 13 she was raped by director Roman Polanski in the home of Jack Nicholson.

Samantha desperately wanted to keep her anonymity and continue on with her life. Her family and lawyer were in favor of Polanski receiving a light sentence in a plea bargain. No one wanted young Samantha to be forced to testify and face th
Elizabeth Periale
Nov 28, 2013 Elizabeth Periale rated it liked it

"The Girl is a fast and compelling read, but it doesn't provide any easy answers. The case, even after all these years, is far from closed. Geimer points out that Polanski the artist, the director of such classic films as Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, and The Pianist, should be viewed separately from the horny man with a taste for young girls. Many people are able and willing to do that, but there are just as many who aren't."
Oct 15, 2013 April rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
Somewhat interesting; not the best writing.
Mary Cartledgehayes
From the time I began studying creative nonfiction as a Master of Arts candidate at Goucher College, I was convinced that the ancient genre, discovered anew in the last few decades, was going to give voice to the voiceless.

Unrepresented and under-represented populations, whose lives traditionally were subject to the interpretation and translation of writers and journalists, would now have the tools and skills to speak their own truth, without intermediaries.

Some people jumped on the opportunitie
Oct 12, 2013 Lindsay rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received a free copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program. In fact, the copy I received was an "advanced uncorrected proof", so it did not have an image on the cover or any photos inside.

I have yet to see a Roman Polanski film, but I know quite a bit about him. After learning about the Manson family's murder of Sharon Tate, I became interested in her famous widowed husband, trying to imagine what it would be like to have your wife and unborn child ruthlessly slain in y
May 01, 2014 Stephanie rated it liked it
She is the girl that was raped by the famous director, Roman Polanski in 1977 when she was 13 years old. In her memoir, Samantha Geimer tells her side of the story. What most people know is that Roman Polanski left the United States prior to his sentencing in the case and has never returned. What most people do not know is the media circus that was the criminal proceedings in this matter. Roman Polanski did plead guilty to a lesser charge. Samantha characterizes the presiding Judge in the matter ...more
Mar 13, 2014 Wendy rated it liked it
This was strong and affecting for the first half or so... kind of fell apart in the end, maybe because the author has less distance, or because more of it involved things she wasn't around for (the legal battles and so on). I was really interested to learn more about Geimer's attitude toward Polanski now, his asylum, subsequent arrest (summary of how I understand it: let it go, especially because I want people to leave me alone), and so on. If the letter he wrote her recently that she quotes ...more
Jun 22, 2015 Mary rated it liked it
I am glad I read this book, in part because it left me with no doubt that RP targeted, drugged, and raped the author when she was thirteen years old. Regardless of what his supporters say, there is no question in my mind about that.

The aftermath of the event, however, has been another sort of violation for the author. I do not use that analogy lightly. The trial was co-opted by a publicity-seeking judge, which prevented the case from being adjudicated fairly -- i.e., with a focus on the crime ra
Mar 05, 2014 shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: profeshnul, 2014
So this is an interesting read for me as someone who works in the "victim advocacy industry" (industry. My office doesn't even have paper towels in the bathroom, yeah we're *raking* it in). I understand the complaints people have of her as a Polanski apologist, but at the same time I also get what she's trying to do in forcing people to see her as a person and not just a prop in someone's agenda. I also was really fascinated by the argument of what her assault meant in context of the seventies ...more
Aug 17, 2016 Paula rated it really liked it
I loved many of Roman Polanski's early movies - Chinatown is still my all-time favorite movie. I was 22 in 1977, and remember all of the horrible things about Roman Polansky's raping a 13-year-old girl, fleeing the country, and all of the many years this continued on in the news. And I always wondered about "The Girl". It seemed to me that Roman got off easy, living a high lifestyle in his various mansions around Europe and still able to make all the movies he wanted. I wondered about all of ...more
Nov 07, 2013 Tajhara rated it really liked it
I wanted to be okay with watching and enjoying Polanski's films. I wanted all of this to be a misunderstanding. But it wasn't. There is no question that he knew what he was doing when he used predatory behavior to rape a 13 y/o girl. But then the justice system failed and he had good reason to run.

This book is written by the survivor of the infamous rape and her lawyer. It is a page turner of unsettling revelations and a lifetime of being hounded by the press and the challenge of trying to heal
Jan 28, 2016 Gail rated it liked it
I thought this book was interesting, but I think Farrah would like it even more than me. (And BTW Brooke, I saw it on your library shelves today in audio if you care). This was written by the girl Polanski drugged and raped when she was 13. She is now 50 and lives on Kauai. She spent her life trying to stay out of the spotlight, but finally decided she wanted to tell her side of the story. She is the reader. I like how pragmatic and down to earth she is, and how she refuses to think of herself ...more
Courtney E. Smith
The entire story is cringe-worthy, but this look into Geimer's point of view about the situation is genuinely insightful. I didn't always agree with her on the bigger picture ideas, but it was nice to hear her point of view in her own voice.
Andie Nash
Dec 09, 2013 Andie Nash rated it really liked it
I've never understood how anyone could defend Polanski or take his "side". This book confirms what I've always believed. He's kind of a scumbag.
Oct 13, 2016 Lara rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
With simple prose and a tabloid-esque construction, this book is a quick and engrossing read. I wanted to read this mostly because as someone who takes sexual assault very, very seriously and someone who struggles with justifying her admiration for Polanski's films (not necessarily his lifestyle), I wanted to learn the victim's story. I enjoyed reading Samantha's recounting of what happened to her, but mostly I was struck by how un-angry she is...about Polanski. She has a serious bone to pick ...more
Oct 24, 2014 Dianne rated it did not like it
Unbelievable in the way that it fails to tell the truth of what actually happened and that all known facts including the forensic evidence comport with Polanski's version of the events. Geimer likes to whitewash both her conduct as well as her mother's in terms of making it seem as though they were mere victims of Polanski's machinations. What she does not or will not allow herself is to admit what was evident: She and her mother were and still are born liars. What is astonishing is she fails to ...more
Jim Dooley
Feb 22, 2014 Jim Dooley rated it really liked it
A most provocative, disturbing book that points out most of us are asking the wrong question when debating this famous, high-profile case. It is not whether the punishment was sufficient or whether Roman Polanski "got away" with it by receiving less than he deserved. It is whether or not justice was meted out. (As the writer points out, it is supposed to be the Department of Justice, not the Department of Punishment.)

The case made in the book is that justice was served, but then it was abused. T
Deanna Sletten
Oct 11, 2013 Deanna Sletten rated it it was amazing
The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski by Samantha Geimer is simply riveting. Samantha shares her story, starting with a description of her home life to give you a background on her family, describing how she became associated with Roman Polanski, reliving that eventful day and evening that changed her life, then telling of her life afterward with great honesty. She doesn't paint herself as a helpless little victim or as a perfect angel. Nor was she a conniving young woman who, along ...more
Rhonda Filipan
Nov 25, 2015 Rhonda Filipan rated it really liked it
I remember when this true-life story headlined the news: a 13-year-old girl was raped at Jack Nicholson's home on March 10, 1977 by famous film director Roman Polanski. I was in 6th grade at the time, so, when I spotted this book on CD at my library, I was very curious to finally hear the story from "the girl" herself, now a woman in her early 50's: Samantha Geimer. I must admit that at first I had mixed reactions, blaming the girl's mother, in particular, for the incidents that transpired at ...more
Beth Strand
Aug 09, 2013 Beth Strand rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Girl" - In Which a Rape Survivor Breaks Her Silence
In March of 1977, Samantha Geimer's life changed forever. She was raped, twice in my opinion, once by a man and then a second time by a legal system still inclined to question what the victim had done to "provoke" her attacker. Because her first rapist was the famous Roman Polanski and because of his subsequent flight and fugitive status, the case has never really gone away.

With those two facts in mind, "The Girl" is entirely not the book I
May 17, 2014 Juliette rated it really liked it
I waited almost a year to get this book from the library, and once it came up on my "holds" list and I checked it out, I could not stop reading it. I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of 1970s culture like me. I also recommend it if you've been oh so conflicted all these years about what really happened with the whole Roman Polanski teen rape saga. Samantha Geimer was thirteen years old in 1977. Roman Polanski arranged two photo sessions with her, with permission of her mother. During ...more
William Koon
Nov 21, 2013 William Koon rated it liked it
The Girl Samantha Geimer Even after all of the sensationalism and even after Marina Zenovich’s sparkling documentary ROMAN POLANSKI WANTED AND DESIRED, still some questions remain. The girl answers some. Yes, she was the girl, the 13 year old girl that Polanski had sex with. As Geimer freely admits, it was a different time. People were exploring sex and spiritualism. And there was Pretty Baby and Taxi Driver. But here is the story from her mouth. She was not the ‘little hooker’ the judge called ...more
Nov 13, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it
I was not expecting to like this book, although I am not sure why. Perhaps it’s because I have never been particularly interested in the details of the Polanski case and, despite being disgusted in 2009 when celebrities were rushing to minimize his heinous crime of raping a 13 year-old girl, I never thought much about the story.

"The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski" is about so much more than just the story of the crime that took place on an afternoon in March, 1977. It’s about the
Paul Pessolano
Sep 24, 2013 Paul Pessolano rated it really liked it
“The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski” by Samantha Geimer, published by Atria Books.

Category – Memoir Publication Date – September 17, 2013

Most of us know Roman Polanski either through his films or for the murder of his wife Sharon Tate by the members of the Charles Manson family.

Samantha Geimer got to know Roman Polanski when he raped her at the home of Jack Nicholson. Samantha was thirteen years old.

Samantha spent the next thirty-five years of her life living with her decision to b
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“This may sound cavalier, but it is true: If I had to choose between reliving the rape or the grand jury testimony, I would choose the rape.” 0 likes
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