The Little Girl On The Ice Floe by Adélaïde Bon


The Little Girl On The Ice Floe is the moving memoir by Adélaïde Bon, a French writer and actress and it has been translated from the French by Ruth Diver. It is not often that I read memoirs, particularly those that deal with challenging subject matter. However, having heard much about this book, which explores the impact of childhood trauma, I took the opportunity to read what I feel is an important, and incredibly brave story.

“All humankind is a child of rape. A frozen child, alone on the ice floe”

Raised in Paris, Adélaïde Bon was fortunate enough to grow up in a wealthy neighbourhood, surrounded by friends and family and with a host of opportunities ahead of her. However, Adélaïde’s life was changed forever when she became the victim of rape at the age of nine, a hideous crime taking place on a bright afternoon, on the stairwell of her own building. To be subjected to such an act, particularly as a child is already something that is impossible to imagine, but this is just the start of one girl’s struggle to come to terms with what has happened to her, with the lingering horror being ever present throughout her life. With family and the authorities informed, Adélaïde was forced to carry on through life with the trauma of her assault a constant presence, despite what may have been visible from the outside. We see her throughout adolescence, through to becoming a young adult with all the challenges that involves, made all the more challenging by her memories of that afternoon, the unseen scars which impact her family and relationships, as well as her health and education. The stories that are recounted are told in painful detail, and brutal honesty, as we see the lasting impact that it had, and how she yearns for closure as the man responsible is caught decades on, and she is forced to relive these moments again.

The Little Girl On The Ice Floe is undoubtedly one of the most difficult books I have read, both in terms of the heart wrenching subject matter, and my ability to review such a book. It is certainly not a book that you can say you enjoyed, and it is a story that is hard to recommend, as it is not something everyone would feel comfortable reading. This is a powerful memoir which is well written, and honest, capturing the true horror of the writers experience as well as those of numerous other young victims of rape and sexual violence. As a result there are vivid descriptions of such acts throughout as the victims recount their own experiences, which made for a heartbreaking read. It also deals with the physical and psychological impact that this had, and we get a glimpse into the mind of a victim, and the complexity of emotions that they experience. The pain, the self-loathing, the fear, disturbing thoughts as memories of the past come to the surface, and old wounds are reopened. As I was reading I was interested to see the switch in pronouns between ‘I’ and ‘She’, as though there are moments in which the author does not recognise herself and the girl that she was at certain points in her life. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must have been for the author to write this memoir, but I think that it is an important book, and one which brings our attention to the full extent of the challenges faced by these girls and women, and victims throughout the world.

The Little Girl On The Ice Floe provides a powerful, personal account of what it is like to live in the aftermath of such a horrifying crime. I have seen it mentioned that Adélaïde Bon has said that writing the book has been an act of healing, and a way in which to leave this chapter of her life behind. And in describing the details of her case in such detail, she has also provided a voice for countless others.

The Little Girl On The Ice Floe was published on 18th April 2019 by Quercus Books, with thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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