Harper: The Snakes by Sadie Jones

No Visible Bruises: What We Don't Know about Domestic Violence Can Kill Us

Journalist Rachel Louise Snyder used to think of domestic violence as "an unfortunate fate for the unlucky few," a hardwiring gone wrong. But then an acquaintance offered a new perspective: that this is a social epidemic, one it is possible to prevent. No Visible Bruises: What We Don't Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us is the product of copious, immersive research, an investigation into a universal and insidious violence and what can be done about it.

Snyder presents her findings in three parts, ordered as "The End," "The Beginning" and finally "The Middle." That is, she first studies what intimate partner violence looks like at its conclusion: homicide and regrets that various systems (judicial, law enforcement, advocacy, etc.) couldn't do more. Next, she investigates the beginning of such violence. Abusers often come from abusive home environments and, along with their victims, grow up in a society that values stoicism, control and violence in men, submissiveness and emotional labor in women. "The Middle" examines how services are provided to victims of domestic violence, and what changes should be considered.

No Visible Bruises sounds like an appallingly dark read, and it's true that the content is deeply disturbing. But by focusing on case studies--individuals' stories--Snyder returns humanity to the horrifying larger issue. The result is an impressive body of knowledge about domestic violence in the United States: what it looks like, its terrifying prevalence, what works and what doesn't in trying to stem the tide. Snyder speaks with urgency about solving a problem that, however invisible, affects us all. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia