Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Review: What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids.

But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed?

This story—inspired by real events—from debut novelist Aaron Hartzler takes an unflinching look at silence as a form of complicity. It’s a book about the high stakes of speaking up, and the razor thin line between guilt and innocence that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time.

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: September 22nd 2015 by Harper Teen

Terri's Thoughts

**I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Harper Teen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is September 22, 2015**

I really do not know what to say about this story.  The synopsis covers the plot however what I am struggling with is the emotions that I went through as a result of this story.  Add to the fact that this is based on a true story it gets me worked up even more.  I feel this review may be more of a rant than anything.

First and foremost I think that this story should be read in schools perhaps as part of the sex education curriculum.  The fact that it is written for the YA audience ensure that the message is delivered effectively to the audience.  What a way to get the message out about sexual assault, rape culture and moral obligations.  The target audience should be high school kids as just like in the book and real life, the events occur to high school ages children who attend parties with alcohol involved.  Speaking from experience there is always alcohol available no matter how much kids are sheltered.  Alas this will never happen as there is the too vocal camp that believes sheltering your children from reality and leaving them in ignorance is protecting them as opposed to empowering them to make wise and informed decisions....I digress

There was so much about this story that shocked me.  First that the assault was captured on camera, second that the folks who filmed it were stupid enough to post it online and third how an entire town turned against the victim and victim shamed her.  I was absolutely disgusted with everyone's behavior.  I can somewhat understand the behavior of the students (although I don't agree) as at that age everyone tends to have the pack mentality and can't see beyond what impacts them personally.  This does not make it right.  It was the actions of the adults that really shocked me.  The coach publicly shaming the victim and advising people to get rid of evidence.  So disgusting!

I could go on an on however I won't.  There are other reviews that outline the story and I think I made my feelings pretty clear.  I was left at the end with such a hollow feeling for the victim of this story and the victims of the real life events similar to this.  Too often society lays the blame on the wrong person/people and the ones who pay the price are the ones that were already a victim, hence become one twice over.  It absolutely disgusts me that we even have to discuss topics such as this in our society however until it stops happening we need to.  Hiding your head in the sand is just as bad as committing the offense and this is why I think this book would have a huge impact for the YA audience. 

As mentioned...more of a rant than a review but as you can tell the message came across to me loud and clear!

About the Author

Aaron Hartzler is the author of Rapture Practice (Little, Brown), a memoir about getting kicked out of his Christian high school two weeks before graduation. The New York Times called Rapture Practice "effervescent and moving, evocative and tender." It was also named one of Kirkus Reviews and Amazon's Best Books of 2013, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. His next book, a novel called What We Saw, will be published by HarperTeen on September 22, 2015. It's the story of a girl named Kate whose friend is assaulted by student athletes at a party, and how Kate navigates small town politics to find out what really happened. Aaron lives by the beach in Santa Monica with his two dogs, Charlie and Brahms


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