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The Damage by Caitlin Wahrer

The Damage

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Caitlin Wahrer, on your first book!

by Caitlin Wahrer

Quick take

What would you do to protect family? After her brother-in-law is attacked, Julia finds her answer—and her husband's.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Whodunit


Illustrated icon, Icon_Challenging_Indicator


This book contains scenes that depict sexual assault and mentions of suicide.

Why I love it

Rachel Howzell Hall
Author, And Now She's Gone

Family: We love ‘em, but we don’t choose ‘em. Like Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, we do all the extreme things in the name of family. Messy, dramatic, loving, ride or die... we’re all “that family.” No one knows what goes on behind those closed doors across the street, but it’s not that different from what’s happening behind yours and mine: duh-RAMA. And there’s plenty of duh-RAMA in Caitlin Wahrer’s The Damage.

College student Nick Hall plans to meet up with his new crush one night and dude is a no-show. Instead, the worst happens: Nick is sexually assaulted and lands in the hospital. His overprotective big brother Tony wants revenge. A cooler head prevails in his wife Julia, who doesn’t want to bring more problems to the family and aims for a... quieter solution. Detective Rice, assigned to Nick’s case, seems like he understands, but how much will he look past once he learns the truth about what really happened that night between Nick and his attacker?

The Damage is stuffed with dread and honor, liars and secrets. The story makes you want to scream at the page, then hold your breath and hope for the best. You will shake your head and say, “These people crazy,” and then nod, because these people can easily be your kin. Screwed-up. Morally confused. Duplicitous and charming. Just like the Lannisters. Yum!

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Tony has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when he's called to a hospital bed where Nick is lying battered and bruised after a violent sexual assault, his protective instincts flare, and a white-hot rage begins to build.

As a small-town New England lawyer, Tony's wife, Julia, has cases involving kids all the time. When Detective Rice gets assigned to this one, Julia feels they're in good hands. Especially because she senses that Rice, too, understands how things can quickly get complicated. Very complicated.

After all, one moment Nick was having a drink with a handsome stranger; the next, he was at the center of an investigation threatening to tear not only him, but his entire family, apart. And now his attacker, out on bail, is disputing Nick's version of what happened.

As Julia tries to help her brother-in-law, she sees Tony's desire for revenge, to fix things for Nick, getting out of control. Tony is starting to scare her. And before long, she finds herself asking: does she really know what her husband is capable of? Or of what she herself is?

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Get an early look from the first pages of The Damage.

Member thoughts

All (3306)
All (3306)
Love (1781)
Like (1397)
Dislike (128)
3339 ratings
  • 53% Love
  • 42% Like
  • 4% Dislike
  • Hibbing, MN

    I couldn’t put it down! I loved the characters from Nick and Tony’s relationship to the dynamic between Julia and the detective. I thought I knew how this book was ending but I didn’t see it coming!!

  • Hollywood, MD

    I don’t think I could love this book any more. I was nervous about how detailed the rape was but I think she found the right balance that you understand what happened but it wasn’t too much to stomach

  • Sparta, WI

    Excellent storytelling. Got to the near-end and was devastated with the turn of events…until I read the end-END and the implications were clear. I only wish I knew if Nick knew. In my mind, he does.

  • New York , NY

    I love crime and mystery novels. Having a story centered around a case was so intriguing. I really grew to dislike Julia and her involvement, but in the end I sided with her and her actions. Loved it!

  • Shingle Springs , CA

    This is a great debut novel and about a not so talked about subject-men as victims of sexual violence.With a surprise ending that you would not totally guess,I cannot wait to read more from this autho

  • Avon, OH

    This was a fantastic, well-written debut that dealt with tough issues in a respectful manner. The characters seemed so real to me, and I would love more about them. The author's next book is on my TBR

  • Santa Fe, NM

    Really loved this book and thought it was spot on as far as how victims and families process sexual assault. I LOVED the ending and the complexity of the characters, the wife and detective in particlr

  • San Antonio, TX

    This book kept me guessing and I was surprised by its ending. It's heartbreaking to see someone in pain and to read their struggles and that much joyful to know they overcome it. I highly recommend it

  • Oshkosh, WI

    This was such a great thriller! A whodunit that kept you wondering as the storyline unfolded. The author wrote the storyline from various characters as well as from the viewpoint of after and during.

  • Dunlap, IL

    I loved this book. I liked the different perspectives each chapter and how everyone struggled kn different ways. I look forward to reading more books by this author since this was a debut. Good job !!

  • Warwick, RI

    A great book. It’s like watching a car wreck unfold as you back and forth between present day and 2015. Everyone was hiding something. Read it and think what lengths would you go to protect family?

  • Norwood, PA

    Wow. The Damage was both emotional and incredibly well written with plot twists I didn’t see coming. Putting this book down was a challenge! Nick and Tony’s relationship was super enjoyable, too.

  • Las Vegas , NV

    Wow. Would never have guessed this was a debut novel. The writing and closure feels as though it was completed by a seasoned author. This kept me anxious, but in a good way. Really makes you think.

  • Hanover, PA

    This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Couldn’t put it down and loved every turn the plot threw at you! Great characters, and a plot that makes you feel for every one of them.

  • Elizabeth , PA

    I could not put this down and had to finish it the day I received it. A thrilling page turner that will leave you reeling with disbelief. I wish I could read it for the first time again and again.

  • Wilkesboro, NC

    Really fast-paced and easy to get into. Literally finished in two days. Started to figure it out, still enjoyed the ending. Good characters and interesting plot. Could tell the author was a lawyer.

  • Wilmington, NC

    This book explored a topic that doesn’t get discussed very often and the implications it has on the victim feels more devastating in some aspects. The twisty ending was the perfect knife twist.

  • New York, NY

    I truly did not think I would love it as much as I did! Couldn’t put it down. Dealt with some really tough topics, but incredibly well done! Truly shocked this is the author’s debut! Amazing!

  • Sterling Heights, MI

    So good! Kept me guessing in a "just tell me what happened" way. I couldn't put this book down. The multiple perspectives & different timelines were managed well in this story. Highly recommend!

  • Spokane, WA

    Wow am I glad that I got this one. I was hesitant at first but this book I’ve never read a book so fast. I loved the storyline it was intense and nothing like I have ever read. So engaging.

  • Too Good to Be True
  • The Push
  • The Collective
  • The Last Thing He Told Me
  • The Damage
  • 56 Days
  • We Were Never Here
  • Everything We Didn't Say
  • The Last Flight
  • The Night She Disappeared
  • Not a Happy Family
  • The Wife Upstairs
  • Rock Paper Scissors
  • The Maidens
  • A Flicker in the Dark
  • Razorblade Tears
  • Reckless Girls
  • Winter Counts
  • Silverview
  • The Woman in the Window
  • The Hunting Party
  • The Silent Patient
  • Goodnight Beautiful
  • The Hunting Wives
  • Pretty Little Wife
  • The Guest List
  • Invisible Girl
  • Girl A
  • Behind Her Eyes
  • The Girl in the Mirror
  • The Night Swim
  • Before She Knew Him
  • Then She Was Gone
  • You Are Not Alone
  • The Family Upstairs
  • The Wife Between Us
  • Into the Water
  • Gone Girl
  • Dark Places
  • The Alienist
  • Since We Fell
  • The Blinds
  • Cross Her Heart
  • The Winter Sister
  • The Other Woman
  • Necessary People