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Dark Chapter

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  615 ratings  ·  142 reviews

Vivian is a cosmopolitan Taiwanese-American tourist who often escapes her busy life in London through adventure and travel. Johnny is a 15-year-old Irish teenager, living a neglected life on the margins of society.

On a bright spring afternoon in West Belfast, their paths collide during a horrifying act of violence.

In the af
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Legends Press
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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  615 ratings  ·  142 reviews

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Although the book descriptions obscure the subject of this book, the blurbs on the back cover reveal that it is about a rape. Vivian Tan, a Harvard graduate in her late 20's works in London, in a job related to the film industry. She is invited to Belfast to the 10th anniversary of the Peace Accord. After all of the meetings, she decides to go for a hike in a park near West Belfast where she crosses paths with a 15-year-old Traveler Johnny Sweeney and suffers a violent sexual assault.
The author
H.A. Leuschel
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
An exceptionally courageous exploration of how different people's life circumstances can mold them into who they become and cause a violent and devastating clash when they happen to meet in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
If I had to choose only three words to sum up Li’s debut novel Dark Chapter, it would be: compelling, well-written and courageous. Drawing on her own personal experiences, the author’s account of her character’s journey to reclaim her life after the traumatic assault and rape she suffered at the hands of her attacker is well drawn and authentic – as it is harrowing and disturbing. Some readers may find the scenes describing Vivian’s rape confronting, but I thought they are refreshingly honest an ...more
Rob Twinem
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This story is all the more astounding when you consider that it is based on the real life events that occurred to the author. I have never been more affected or more enthralled by the content of a novel or by its alternate voice method of presentation. Vivian Tan, independent and vivacious traveller, is in Belfast invited to contribute in the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement. As a keen walker she plans to use the opportunity to explore the nearby Colin Glen Fores ...more
Andy Weston
Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it
To award stars because of enjoying the book, or to award stars as recognition that it is an important piece of literature that is well written, that is the question.

This is almost impossible to enjoy as a novel, through Winnie Li’s writing is to be admired especially considering the she herself is a rape victim.

I have read a couple of books this year about the neglect of children and along with this, should you choose to read them, such books need to be spaced apart, with plenty of levity in b
Rob Twinem
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story is all the more astounding when you consider that it is based on the real life events that occurred to the author. I have never been more affected or more enthralled by the content of a novel or by its alternate voice method of presentation. Vivian Tan, independent and vivacious traveller, is in Belfast invited to contribute in the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement. As a keen walker she plans to use the opportunity to explore the nearby Colin Glen Fore ...more
Michelle Scott
May 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-reads
When Vivian goes hiking alone in an unfamiliar part of Belfast, she meets 15-year-old Johnny and her life is never the same afterwards

I really struggled with this book and how to rate it. Usually, I rate a book according to how much I enjoyed it, but this book was not an enjoyable read. In fact, it should come with a warning that it contains intense images of rape and violence. Not that it is a voyeuristic or lurid novel. Far from it. Dark Chapter is an intense, gritty drama about one woman's jo
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was painful and brutal yet simultaneously beautiful and necessary. I could not put it down and I stayed up too late past my bedtime to finish it. I hadn't read many detailed summaries before receiving an ARC from Netgalley (thank you to NetGalley and the publisher!) so I actually had no idea that the catalyst to the story was a rape. To be totally honest, I'm not sure I would have read the book had I known that rape was at the forefront. However, I'm incredibly glad that I read this. T ...more
Tracy Fenton
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Seriously I really don't think anything I have to say here does this book justice and I don't want to give this book the usual "riveting, gripping, page-turning" review because this is a book that everyone needs to read.

Dark Chapter is based on a true story and inspired by the authors own sexual assault and therefore every word written is brutal, raw and harrowing. Often when I write reviews I might refer to the characters or the twists or the atmosphere, but Dark Chapter is a book that doesn't
Robert Intriago
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, 2018
A very good story about a rape and the effects the crime has on the perpetrator and the victim, but not truly a mystery. This book was nominated for an Edgar Award and after reading it you can see why. The beginning is a little confusing and it takes a little bit to unravel it. Once you get into the story it is page turning. The story is told from two perspectives: the perpetrator and the victim. I found the story of the perpetrator very enlightening as it delves into the life of “the travelers” ...more
Abby Slater- Fairbrother
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This novel is loosely based around, the authors real-life sexual assault. I found this incredibly brave and it offered the reader an insight into the rape survivor’s inner most private thoughts. This novel begins before the attack has taken place and ends 5 years after. It is written with a raw honesty and you genuinely feel the emotions, the protagonist Vivian goes through.

“They say events like this change your life forever”

This is the opening line to this novel and very much sums up the entir
Susan Hampson
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The title of this book is so very perfect and although to the reader it represent the very horrific and brutal facts of the story, for the author and assailant it is the dark chapters in their lives following the thirty minutes that they actual knew each other. It is a courageous story told by the author, herself the victim. The thing that I admire greatly about her is being able to not only tell her side of the story but also that of the young teenager that violated and raped her.
There is a bac
E. Mellyberry
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: got-a-copy
Once in a while there comes a book that knocks you down, tears you apart, then puts you together again a much inspired woman. DARK CHAPTER does that. I ran out of post-its to mark the important words. I used my camera to snap evey phrase that spoke to me but soon my phone was full with more than a hundred snapshots of this book. Every page is important. Every phrase is true, gripping, gut-wrenching, emotional, angry, powerful, strong. STRONG.This book, this story? STRONG. The voice? STRONG. 💖
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this from Legend Press to review as part of a blog tour (my spot is on the 14th I'm v excited!). So I'll upload a full review after this point. Dark Chapter is unlike any book I've read, it's brutal and truthful and gives a real insight in to the effects that sexual assault can have. It's a tough read but it's also an important one!
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Vivian and Johnny, two very different people from two very different backgrounds whose paths are on course for collision. In The Dark Chapter, Winnie Li takes us on a journey that changed her life forever. This is a story based on reality, it’s a tough and emotional read but it is also a story of strength, resilience and a journey to recovery. It is a story that needs to be read.

It is harrowing, and despite being fiction, it is a raw read as we know that the author is also a survivor of rape. Th
Michelle Ryles
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-read
If I could only write one sentence about this book it would be: Dark Chapter is a disturbing and compelling book but quite simply STUNNING! I could no more tear my eyes from the page than I could forget to breathe. As difficult as it was to read at times, it was quite impossible to stop reading.

Vivian has come to Belfast to see the sights, but gets more than she bargained for when she is raped; shocked and stunned, she reports the crime but as much courage as that took, she needs to call on grea
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
At first it was a little confusing, starting at the end, then jumping to the beginning. Then onto the childhood of Vivian, living in America, her education and her love of travel with her arrival to the UK. At the same time as Vivian’s story we are told about Johnny, a teenager of Irish Travellers, his upbringing is very different and hard. Once I had gone a few chapters into the book and understood the switching between characters, then I was well and truly hooked.

The book tells how two people
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Told with empathy and insight, this powerful and unflinching story of a young woman’s rape and its aftermath is based on the author’s own experience, and feels convincingly authentic. Narrated in two alternating voices, the victim's and the assailant's, it’s the tale of a young Taiwanese-American woman who enjoys travelling independently and is always aware of the risks. However, when walking in a Belfast park her path crosses with a disadvantaged 15-year-old Traveller boy, Johnny, and what foll ...more
DNFed @ 28%. Uncomfortable to read being a book about rape, especially as it's apparently based on the author's own experience. So definitely a difficult subject to read about and I simply don't want to read more. I'm also finding the writing a little weak and unengaging. Of course this is difficult subject to write about well. Leaving unrated.
Jane Willis
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As other readers have commented, the constantly changing viewpoint makes it quite difficult to follow this book to start with, but it is well worth persevering because it is a mechanism used to very effectively build up the suspense and horror of the time leading up to the assault, and of the assault itself.
We know right from the outset that there WILL be an assault, and I was rather surprised to find it happened half way through the book: once I'd reached that part I thought "So what now?" but
Amelia Volkova
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a giveaway and when it finally arrived and I started reading,it seemed confusing,I didn't expect it to be written in two POVs, but it soon became clear to me that this way the story would uncover in two different perspectives and display all the terrifying things that goes in minds of rapists and how destructive it is for the victim to live everyday after the assault. I really wanted to finish this book as soon as possible,it was too hard for me to read, I would put it down an ...more
Miriam Smith
Jun 16, 2017 added it
Shelves: giveaways
Won in Goodreads Giveaways - not read, passed on to another reader.
Colette Lamberth
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I became aware of this book after it won The Guardian Not the Booker Prize 2017 and thought that I would like to read it. This is a work of fiction based on the author’s experience of rape rather than a memoir. I’m not sure how I would cope with reading a memoir knowing that it was all true. That said this is a very powerful and moving tale told from the viewpoints of Johnny the rapist and Vivian the victim. I wasn’t at all comfortable with the voice of Johnny as I was reading particularly the c ...more
Wendy Greenberg
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Whilst I felt some of the writing was flawed, the rage this book engenders overpowers any note of criticism. This is the story of a rape from perspective of victim and assailant. Although this is fiction, it is, in essence, a re-telling of what did happen to the author. The fact that she can show the upbringing of the rapist and his violent, alcohol fuelled brutal childhood brimming with emotional deprivation, as a parallel narrative throughout the unfolding of the harrowing events, makes it all ...more
Heidi Love
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dark Chapter is a powerful, riveting, and thought-provoking novel. Winnie M Li, is a courageous woman exploring the mind of an assailant, and her own assault, as an effort toward understanding and compassion. I felt Ms. Li’s story was my own, from the gripping prologue, “…a clean split struck straight down the breadth of your existence, severing your first twenty-nine years from all the years that come after…,” through to the end. I highly recommend this important work anyone who has ever strugg ...more
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A hard courageous read based loosely on the authors true life experience . A tale of Vivian who was brutally raped by a young traveller boy . What makes this book compelling and heartbreaking is the emotions that come from Vivian and knowing these same emotions are from the heart of the author . Although Johnny is the bad guy here I still felt some sympathy to him as he really didn’t stand a chance in life with the upbringing( or lack of ) that he had .
A book that will stay with me for a long t
Kerry Quinn
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dark Chapter is heartbreaking, beautiful and thrilling. I started and finished it in less than 12 hours. I will admit I was reticent to begin it. As a victim of sexual assault, I wondered if it would trigger me. It did, but also maybe helped me close my own dark chapter. The unique element is that it shows the lives and minds of both victim and attacker. It isn’t always easy to walk in both stories, but it did allow me to find empathy for both characters. No one is the sum of one bad incident, e ...more
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaway
DARK CHAPTER is such an awful story that is so beautifully written. This novel concerns a brutal rape and the aftermath told by the victim and the rapist. I believe the author to be a brave and courageous woman as DARK CHAPTER is based on what happened to her. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I came very close to giving this book 5 stars, and I want to thank Ms. Li for writing such a powerful book. I received this book for my honest opinion.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Review to follow as part of blog tour

Dark Chapter by Winnie Li is about the brutal rape of a young Taiwanese-American woman who is a tourist in West Belfast. Her attack happens in broad daylight while enjoying a day's hike. Her rapist is Johnny, a 15-year old boy. The book is based upon the author's own experience of rape.

I'll start by saying that I tried several times to write a concise review of this novel, but that each time I found it difficult to find the correct words. I will say that thi
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very difficult subject, but treated in a way that provides lots of clues as to why and how a rape can happen. It also describes its aftermath in a very humane way for both victim and perpetrator. Lots of food for thoughts in this book, and I believe it will stay with me for a long time to come. Everybody should read this book, in the #metoo awakening.
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Winnie M. Li is a writer, producer, and activist. And frequent backpacker who has somehow managed to spend the past 15 years, engaged in film and literature in various parts of the world.

Taiwanese-American and raised in New Jersey, Winnie studied Folklore and Mythology at Harvard, specializing in Celtic Languages and Literature. In 2000, she was selected as a George Mitchell Scholar and earned her

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