Break Her by B.G. Harlen



(Warning: Includes graphic depictions of rape, sex, and violence and is for readers over the age of 18 only.)

“Break Her” is one of those books that I am really not qualified to “review” because the writing is so amazing (Clue #1 as to the author’s identity!) so I’ll just stick to giving my humble opinion.

I read this book a few months ago and have been thinking about it ever since. To me, that is the hallmark of an excellent book. Here is the synopsis of the story, in which a woman wakes to find a dangerous stranger in her bed:

“Now your home has become your prison, and your body, a battlefield. How would you hold onto your sanity, your self-esteem, your very soul against someone determined to annihilate all three?

In the psychological thriller Break Her, one woman will find herself in this almost unthinkable situation, and one man will discover that he has finally come up against someone unlike any of those he has destroyed before.

On the surface, this intruder has all the advantages: strength, weapons, ruthlessness. The only way he can lose is if he finds himself responding to his victim on a human level. The only way she can win is if she rips away the protective lies she’s told herself, the hard shell of indifference she’s hidden in, and becomes again what she has not been since she lost everything that mattered to her, years ago. ”

Break Her is a very graphic story of the gripping psychological interplay between the woman and the rapist. (I refuse to call her simply “Victim” as some reviewers have done.) The rapist is very cunning and very strong. He is determined to destroy the woman not only physically, but emotionally as well.

He was decent looking. He probably had money. He could have sex any way he wanted any time he wanted. But he liked it this way.

The story itself is set over a period of an excruciating day and a half, within the physical confines of a house. The characters are not named by the author. Through a series of flashbacks, however, the woman’s past is explained in detail and other characters are introduced. I was hanging on every word, and reading furiously to reach the stunning conclusion of this book.

“You think you’ll wear me out,” he hissed, not using a question. “You think you’ll eventually satisfy me, and reach the end of this. But everything you do makes me want you more, deeper, impossibly more. I think I’m reaching a point I’ve never hit before. Like perpetual motion. Or nirvana. I’ll never stop.”

There are many questions raised by this story. What was the author trying to convey here? Well, first and foremost, I think it is a story of the woman’s fierce strength and will to survive. The author has written this book under a pseudonym so that we do not know the writer’s gender. Brilliant.

The author has ventured an opinion on the subject of rape in other forums that forgiveness allows rape victims to move on, and to separate themselves from what happened. The author has also questioned why rape is the only crime that seems to be an “open wound”, which gives men a huge amount of power to know that by this one act, they can potentially destroy a woman. Certainly the woman in “Break Her” does not accept the definition of rape as an “open wound” and in that sense, this book is very empowering.

“Break Her” is an incredibly gripping and yes, emotionally exhausting, story. It is very thought-provoking and will make you question what values you believe in. I could not put this book down. I can only hope that the author chooses to continue the woman’s story because I need more of this story.