It’s a deep sorrow that What Is a Girl Worth? had to be written at all. Though it is at times a sad and sickening read, we cannot and must not flinch from the reality it describes. My hope and prayer is that Denhollander’s long labor on this book will make a difference within the church and outside of it.
Rachael Denhollander’s What Is a Girl Worth? is a hard book to read. But it’s also an important book to read. While it tells of the horrendous crimes perpetrated by just one man, it warns that many similar crimes have been and are being perpetrated by a great many other predators. While it focuses largely on one woman’s suffering, it reveals how so many other victims have suffered as a consequence of crimes committed against them. And while it tells of how one evil individual received justice, it offers conviction and hope that many others can as well. (Denhollander was the first woman to bring public accusations against former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who was subsequently found to have sexually abused hundreds of young girls.)
In place of a full review, I would like to offer a number of ways in which I consider What Is a Girl Worth? a particularly helpful book.
First, the book reveals the ways in which sexual predators prey upon their victims and how they get away with their crimes. We may convince ourselves that we would be able to identify a predator who was attempting to prey on those we love, but this book shows that we tend to have too high an assessment of our own abilities. We may convince ourselves that we would immediately identify such sexual abuse and speak up against it, but this book shows how and why that is so often not the case. The fact is that Larry Nassar, like many other predators, was a master of gaining confidence and then deceiving and exploiting people for his own pleasure. He could make eye contact with a mother while in the very act of abusing her daughter and still be thought a kind, caring, and considerate man. If you read What Is a Girl Worth?, you will see one master manipulator at work and hopefully gain a kind of helpful humility.