Friday, October 11, 2013

Book Review: The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski by Samantha Geimer

Hi all,

I've always had an interest in the Manson Family murders that occurred in 1969 and have read almost every book and watched pretty much every documentary on it. Actress Sharon Tate, wife of Producer/Director Roman Polanski, was killed by the Manson family that fateful night. She was eight months pregnant at the time. Eight years later, Roman Polanski was back in the news, except this time, he was the perpetrator. He was arrested for the rape of a thirteen year old girl. At that time, the public did not know the identity of "the girl". Polanski skipped the country and has, ever since, been unable to return to the United States. As the years went by, I'd see Polanski's name in the news every so often and wonder about the girl, now a grown woman, and how she felt every time he won an award or received attention when he was never punished for the crime of her rape. Well, now I don't have to wonder anymore. When I saw that she had written a book about her experience and how she's coped with the legacy of it over the past 36 years, I just had to read it. Here is the book description and my review.

The Girl:
A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski
Samantha Geimer

Book Description:

In this searing and surprising memoir, Samantha Geimer, “the girl” at the center of the infamous Roman Polanski sexual assault case, breaks a virtual thirty-five-year silence to tell her story and reflect on the events of that day and their lifelong repercussions.

March 1977, Southern California. Roman Polanski drives a rented Mercedes along Mulholland Drive to Jack Nicholson’s house. Sitting next to him is an aspiring actress, Samantha Geimer, recently arrived from York, Pennsylvania. She is thirteen years old.

The undisputed facts of what happened in the following hours appear in the court record: Polanski spent hours taking pictures of Samantha—on a deck overlooking the Hollywood Hills, on a kitchen counter, topless in a Jacuzzi. Wine and Quaaludes were consumed, balance and innocence were lost, and a young girl’s life was altered forever—eternally cast as a background player in her own story.

For months on end, the Polanski case dominated the media in the United States and abroad. But even with the extensive coverage, much about that day—and the girl at the center of it all—remains a mystery. Just about everyone had an opinion about the renowned director and the girl he was accused of drugging and raping. Who was the predator? Who was the prey? Was the girl an innocent victim or a cunning Lolita artfully directed by her ambitious stage mother? How could the criminal justice system have failed all the parties concerned in such a spectacular fashion? Once Polanski fled the country, what became of Samantha, the young girl forever associated with one of Hollywood’s most notorious episodes? Samantha, as much as Polanski, has been a fugitive since the events of that night more than thirty years ago.

Taking us far beyond the headlines, The Girl reveals a thirteen-year-old who was simultaneously wise beyond her years and yet terribly vulnerable. By telling her story in full for the first time, Samantha reclaims her identity, and indelibly proves that it is possible to move forward from victim to survivor, from confusion to certainty, from shame to strength.

Buy The Girl by Samantha Geimer

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My 5 Star Review:

The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski by Samantha Geimer is simply riveting. Samantha shares her story, starting with a description of her home life to give you a background on her family, describing how she became associated with Roman Polanski, reliving that eventful day and evening that changed her life, then telling of her life afterward with great honesty. She doesn't paint herself as a helpless little victim or as a perfect angel. Nor was she a conniving young woman who, along with her mother, planned to snare Polanski in a trap so she could profit from it, as many people asserted. Samantha was raped by a man over thirty years older than she was, and all she wanted was for justice to be served and then to move on with her life. Unfortunately, she got neither.

Roman Polanski skipped out of the U.S. before he was sentenced for the rape and has since been a fugitive from justice. But he hasn't exactly been hiding out. He's worked, made movies, and even won awards for his work. When he was nominated for an Academy Award for best director for his movie The Pianist in 2003, the "artist" community was actually outraged that he wasn't able to return to the U.S. for the award ceremony just because of a rape he'd committed 25 years earlier. Again, years later, he was arrested in Zurich, Switzerland for the outstanding warrant when he tried to attend the Zurich Film Festival where he was to win an award. Celebrities were up in arms about the arrest, conveniently forgetting that years before, Polanski had raped a young girl. And each time Polanski was in the news, Samantha was bombarded by the press for her opinion on the matter, instead of being left alone to live her life.

Samantha explains all of this in her book, as well as all the nitty gritty details of her life, good and bad. She doesn't whitewash anything about her life. She also explains why, after years of trying to stay out of the spotlight, she finally came forward to tell her story. It's an interesting story to read, and it's refreshing to finally hear her side of the story after years of blatant lies fed to us by the media. If you enjoy true life stories, you will enjoy Samantha's story.



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