One of Indigo's Best Books of 2021 So Far
Rehtaeh Parsons was a gifted teenager with boundless curiosity and a love for family, science, and the natural world. But her life was derailed when she went to a friend’s house for a sleepover and the two of them dropped by at a neighbour’s house, where a group of boys were having a party.
The next day, one of the boys circulated a photo on social media: it showed Rehtaeh half naked, with a boy up against her. She had no recollection of what had happened. For 17 months, Rehtaeh was shamed from one school to the next. Bullied by her peers, she was scorned by their parents and her community. No charges were laid by the RCMP.
In comfortable, suburban Nova Scotia, Rehtaeh spiralled into depression. Failed by her school, the police, and the mental health system, Rehtaeh attempted suicide on April 4, 2013. She died three days later.
But her story didn’t die with her. Rehtaeh’s death shone a searing light on attitudes toward issues of consent and sexual assault. It also led to legislation on cyberbullying, a review of mental health services for teens, and an overhaul of how Canadian schools deal with cyber exploitation.
My Daughter Rehtaeh Parsons offers an unsparing look at Rehtaeh’s story, the social forces that enable and perpetuate violence and misogyny among teenagers, and parental love in the midst of horrendous loss.
About the authors
Glen Canning is now an advocate for victims of sexual assault. He has spoken about Rehtaeh’s experience throughout Canada and the US.
Susan McClelland is an award-winning investigative journalist and author. Her writing has appeared in publications including the Globe and Mail, Maclean's, Canadian Living, Chatelaine and The Walrus. Her books include Bite of the Mango (Annick Press, 2008), The Last Maasai Warriors (Me to We, 2012) and The Tale of Two Nazanins (Harper Collins, 2012), and she has won two Amnesty International Media Awards for excellence in human rights reporting.
“Heartbreaking. Simply heartbreaking. This is a tragedy we must not look away from because it reveals so much about this world and the issues and problems we must confront head-on. This book, with its unrelenting poignancy and honesty, is a necessary read to begin that long, hard, necessary look.”
Jared Yates Sexton, author of <i>The Man They Wanted Me to Be</i>
“A necessary call-to-action, My Daughter Rehtaeh Parsons is a heartwrenching look at the ripple effects of misogyny and the devastating impacts of an indifferent legal system. Rehtaeh Parsons was a resilient young woman who fought like hell for a more just world, and it is a gift to all of us that Glen has continued that work. I believe we have a collective responsibility to bear witness and heed his call for change.”
Julie S. Lalonde, author of <i>Resilience is Futile</i>
“Canning’s book does more than just tell the story behind the headlines. He dives deeper into understanding his role as a man and how it has played out as well.”
<i>Winnipeg Free Press</i>
“Rehtaeh — It’s a name rooted in whimsy that would give rise to global headlines.”
<i>Atlantic Books Today</i>
“Glen Canning wrote a book no father would ever dream of writing.”
<i>The Book Shelf</i>
“My Daughter Rehtaeh Parsons asks all of us to deeply examine the roots of sexual violence, the ways in which it is perpetuated in our society, and how we all need to take action. Glen Canning skillfully shares the grief that is bearing witness to your child being harmed not only by her peers but by the systems that purport to support her.”
Farrah Kahn, gender justice advocate
“Not every book tells a beautiful story. Some tell hard ones. This is one of those.”
<i>The Miramichi Reader</i>