Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

I Will Find You

by Joanna Connors

A singularly striking memoir by a skillful journalist and reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Joanna Connors, about her quest to uncover the life of the man who, twenty-one years earlier, raped her.

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 272
  • Publication Date April 05, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2260-5
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $25.00

About The Book

“This is it. My rape. I knew it was coming. Every woman knows. And now here it is. My turn.”

When Joanna Connors was thirty years old on assignment for the Cleveland Plain Dealer to review a play at a college theater, she was held at knifepoint and raped by a stranger who had grown up five miles away from her. Once her assailant was caught and sentenced, Joanna never spoke of the trauma again, until twenty-one years later when her daughter was about to go to college. She resolved then to tell her children about her own rape so that they could learn and protect themselves, and she began to realize that the man who assaulted her was one of the most formative people in her life.

Setting out to uncover the story of her attacker, Connors embarked on a journey to find out who he was, where he came from, who his friends were, and what his life was like. What she discovers stretches beyond one violent man’s story and back into her own, interweaving a narrative about strength and survival with one about rape culture and violence in America.

I Will Find You is a brave, timely consideration of race, class, education, and the families that shape who we become, by a reporter and a survivor.


“Is it possible to call the story of a violent rape and its haunting aftermath a thing of beauty? In the hands of Joanna Connors, this lucid, powerful memoir becomes its own form of redemption, as a seasoned reporter turns her gaze on her own life and that of her rapist’s. I found this to be a profoundly moving, important, and, yes, beautiful book.” —Dani Shapiro, author of Still Writing

“Deeply humane and harrowing.” —Boston Globe

“Connors unflinchingly uncovers the grim life of the man who raped her.” —Vanity Fair

“Twenty-two years after she was raped by a stranger, Connors sets out to explore the life of her attacker. In doing so, she not only unpacks her own trauma but also confronts issues of race, class, and gender. It’s heavy stuff. But with emotional honesty and profound questioning Connors deftly turns her victimization into a considered meditation on how we treat others.” —Cosmopolitan

“A searing narrative that plumbs both emotional and political depths . . . Connors’s forthright exploration of race and poverty enlarges her personal story, turning it into a richer, more complex and ultimately more harrowing account of interwoven traumas . . . What’s miraculous about this memoir is Connors’s ability to identify, in clean, lucid prose, evidence of hope—and even beauty—amid such an abundance of misery . . . [it is] powerful evidence of our society’s failure to address the causes and consequences of sexual violence.” —New York Times Book Review

“Raw and unnerving . . . If a reader is looking for the most candid, most powerful true book about rape, let Connors’ be the one.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Brutally affecting . . . powerful . . . [Connors] has an everywoman quality: she could be you . . . [she] illustrates how inextricably our lives—and those of our children—are entwined with the lives of others.” —Guardian

“A terrific book . . . [Connors is] a beautiful writer and often manages to be wry, funny and transcendent as she deals with an immensely serious topic.” —New York Times

“Compelling . . . Through Connors’ thoughtful and intrepid search, she confronts weighty truths about race and sexual violence. She doesn’t shy away from the personal details and, in doing so, ensures the reader sees a raw and honest account of her life before, during and after the rape. Although the subject is heartbreaking, this profound work will keep readers thinking long after the book is complete.” —Green Bay Press-Gazette

“Readers come away with a sense that, through researching and writing I Will Find You, Connors has been able to banish some demons and start down a healthy path—one that leads to finding her own new self. Her book is a study in healing and courage and should prove to be a resource for many of those touched by these terrible crimes.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Filled with an unrelenting honesty about sexual violence, race in America, and the realities of incarceration and poverty . . . it is necessary reading for a culture that seems unable to talk reasonably and openly about sexual violence . . . Read this book, talk about it. You might create a public space for others to talk about what has happened to them.” —Yes! Weekly

“A book both brutal in its honesty and beautifully told.” —New Zealand Herald

“Weaving together memoir and journalism, the book offers a deeply moving, personal story while examining issues of race, class, and violence against women . . . I Will Find You is more than just Connors’s personal story. As a journalist, she manages to stay amazingly objective, even while tackling such a deeply emotional topic, resulting in a chilling, eye-opening combination of memoir and reportage . . . Connors’s honesty and openness are stunning and inspiring. Her careful and thoughtful examination of her own suffering, as well as her willingness to look deeper at the man who hurt her, make this one of the most compelling, unique books of the year.” —Chicago Review of Books

“A must read for every woman who has ever been raped, who has feared being raped, or who has never even thought about being raped. And for every man who wants to understand or who cares about the women in his life—mothers, sisters, wives, or daughters. Because it is more than a story of rape. It is a story about our divides—of race, of education and opportunity, of prison, and of family.” —Daily Kos

“Raw, revelatory . . . both an unflinching portrait of trauma and an act of journalistic courage.” —Telegraph

“Connors’ riveting, soul-searching book deserves a wide audience; it presents an unusual first-person perspective on critical issues of race, class and crime in America.” —Book Page

“Harrowing, tragic, and moving. Connors bravely recounts the challenges she faced.” —Bookish

“Is it possible to call the story of a violent rape and its haunting aftermath a thing of beauty? In the hands of Joanna Connors, this lucid, powerful memoir becomes its own form of redemption, as a seasoned reporter turns her gaze on her own life and that of her rapist’s. I found this to be a profoundly moving, important, and, yes, beautiful book.” —Dani Shapiro, author of Still Writing

“The most important book on rape since Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will. Honest and strong, riveting and terrifying, heartbreaking and utterly unsentimental. This book will change lives and minds.” —Mary Doria Russell, author of The Sparrow

“A hard-to-read book that is impossible to put down. I am in awe of Connors’s courage and inspiring compassion. A testament to the power of forgiveness and a hard-earned grace.” —Thrity Umrigar, author of The Space Between Us

“At a time when rape culture threatens the lives of too many American women, journalist Joanna Connors’s I Will Find You is a sobering, masterful, and meticulously researched exploration of the crime but with a twist: Connors plumbs the depths of her attacker and the culture of violence that made him a rapist. In giving a voice both to her own tragedy and to her perpetrator’s, she contributes boldly to the conversation surrounding one of the country’s most pressing and little-explored social problems. Understanding radiates from every page in prose that is crisp and full of unexpected notes of grace.” —Beth Macy, New York Times bestselling author of Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local—and Helped Save an American Town

“[A] powerful work of non-fiction, recounting a journey animated not by revenge or a quest for closure, but profound curiosity.” —The National Book Review, one of 5 Hot Books


It had come in an instant, this leaving my body. It happened as soon as I saw my own blood on my hand. The blood stunned me. I had not felt a cut, just the cool metal at my throat, as the man dragged me across the stage, but I didn’t know he had used it until a few minutes later, when I put my hand to my neck. It felt sticky. I looked at my hand and saw a smear of red.

Dread struck at once, slithering through my chest and into my stomach. I felt its venom spread outward, through my limbs, and then up into my throat. The poison worked in quick stages: shock, then panic, then paralysis.

By the time my brain began to work again, I was looking at myself from high above, up in the theater’s fly space among the ropes and lights. From that vantage point, I watched the man rape me.

I observed with an odd detachment. It was as though what was happening on that stage was happening to someone else.

I was viewing a Hollywood thriller, and we had come to the inevitable rape scene. They were actors; I was the audience.

The woman on the stage looked up at the man. She moved in slow motion.