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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

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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



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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Content warning

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

Free sample

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


Julia Hall 2019

The dying detective’s house was a tall, dark blue thing with chipping trim and shutters. It loomed against the bright sky, set back from the snowbank lining the street. The house was dusted with last night’s powder, but the black 23 tacked above the front door was brushed clean. There was room in the narrow driveway, but she parked on the street.

Julia Hall shifted in her seat to expose the pocket of her heavy winter coat. She crammed her hand deep inside until her fingers scraped the edges of the folded paper. As she pulled the note free, she willed it to say anything but the address she’d located—anything that would let her drive on, maybe never to find the house. There, on the crumpled sheet, she’d written 23 Maple Drive, Cape Elizabeth, and here it was.

“Just go,” she said aloud, then looked sideways at the house. Windows abutted the front door, and each appeared empty with the blinds drawn. At least he hadn’t seen her talking to herself, then.

The wind blew the door from Julia’s hand as she climbed out of her SUV. This winter had been bitterly cold. As she aged she found the winter a little less pleasant to weather each year. She pulled her hat tighter over her ears, then turned back to the car. Without thinking, she slammed the door hard. She winced as the sound rocked down the neighborhood street. She hadn’t done that in years—she was thinking of her old Subaru, the one that demanded a rougher touch. The one she’d had three years ago, back when she had occasion to talk to the man waiting for her inside that house.

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Why I love it

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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Member ratings (5,623)

  • Rachel E.

    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!!

  • Amanda M.

    Dearborn Heights, MI

    So good! Wasn’t expecting the plot twist at all! However, totally could have done without the entire last chapter… or a different ending. I feel it left it more open ended with questioned unanswered.

  • Amanda B.

    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

  • Kit R.

    Williamsburg, VA

    I really liked this book! It was heartbreaking in all the right ways and really reflected a lot of what I felt during the first years post assault. It’s worth a read even to just feel a little more ok

  • Morgan S.

    Dardenne Prairie, MO

    wow. i legit finished this book in the span of 48 hours because i couldn’t put it down. seriously written super well. i loved all the different perspectives. that ending has me reeling! seriously love

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