The Missing Hours

by Julia Dahl
Minotaur Books, September 2021, $25.99

What starts as a normal night in New York City becomes a catalyst for violence and revenge when Claudia Castro, a college girl from a wealthy family, is raped by two young men who film the assault and send it to Claudia to taunt her. Traumatized, struggling with memory lapses from that night, and unsure if anyone will believe her (she has a reputation as a party girl), Claudia cuts all contact with her family and friends and disappears.

As her family tries to find her, Claudia seeks vengeance on her two rapists, enlisting the help of a kind, but lovestruck boy named Trevor who lives at her dorm. But avenging her rape is no easy task, and as Claudia and Trevor discover, violent actions beget more violence.

The Missing Hours is a suspense novel that explores the trauma of rape and shame, as well as the sense of entitlement that men—especially wealthy, well-connected ones—can feel toward women. All these issues are timely in the #MeToo era, as American society confronts the sexualization and objectification of females that has, unfortunately, gone unchecked for far too long. Despite the progress society has made on holding rapists accountable, Julia Dahl’s novel demonstrates that there is still much to be done.

In The Missing Hours readers are faced with tough questions: Why is justice so rarely given to women who are assaulted by the rich or famous? Why do such men often get lighter sentences than others? If a rape victim can’t get justice from the courts, is she justified in taking revenge herself? The Missing Hours explores these grey areas and shines a light on the toughest question of all: When will society protect women and bring their attackers to justice?

Julia Dahl uses Claudia’s plight to highlight the atrocities that too many women have had to cope with on their own, and Claudia’s story will resonate.

Sarah Prindle
Teri Duerr
September 2021
Minotaur Books