Part I—Wolf at her Door: At 19, Haitian-American Iza (short for Isabelle) meets an African-American man 14 years her senior on her college campus. She becomes infatuated with him but resists his advances. Two years later they reconnect—and he rapes her in her apartment. The long-lasting effects of the violent assault are revealed over the next 15 years.
Part II—Devils’ Dance: Iza’s life and relationships with four men, pre- and post-rape, are revisited as she comes of age.
Related Essay #1: “Rape, by Any Other Name”
What can we do about rape? Revolutionary thinking is in order.
Related Essay #2: “Totally Implausible Plot Point”
What is wrong with men? Women! The author makes the case.
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The spread between his 33 years and Iza’s 19 seemed like a running brook one could easily navigate to reach the grassy meadow on the other side. His movie-star face and mustache, the perfect white teeth and friendly smile, the corner wrinkles that warmed his eyes all conspired to charm her into bed. But Iza resisted the black Clark Gable. She wasn’t sure why, since she surely was smitten with Wilson, and looked forward to their weekly rendezvous—a picnic lunch on the college campus; walks through the streets of Manhattan; long conversa- tions over coffee at casual bistros.
Iza’s long-distance fiancé, Bruno, certainly had some bearing on the issue, even though he often behaved like a tyrannical swine when they were together. She would eventually untether herself from the cad, but for the time being, she remained inexplicably obsessed with Numero Uno, probably confusing his macho ethos with the sexy virility of braver men. Bruno and she lived in different countries—he in Haiti, she in the States; and Iza was of the opinion—although unconventional for a young woman in love—that, when they were apart, there was no harm indulging in occasional, uncommitted sex. Yet, however open she may have been to Wilson—like the red-hooded girl who sensed something amiss in her grandmother’s powerful jaw and long, sharp teeth—Iza remained accessible yet guarded. Having discerned the flimsiest of openings, Wilson pursued Iza with the impassioned tracking of a wolf on the hunt for prey.…
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