Friday, October 30, 2015

Review: What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler


The party last Saturday night is a bit of a blur.

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, and begins to ask questions.

What really happened at the party after she left?

Who was still there?

What did they see?

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.

Publication Date: September 22, 2015
What We Saw is a must read for every high school and college age girl. I guarantee this novel will haunt you long after you shut the book because there’s so much brutal honesty between the pages. This is probably one of the best YA novels I’ve read this year and I love the powerful message the author delivered with using a ripped from the headlines premise.

I thought the author made a smart decision by having the story told by everygirl Kate instead of the rape victim Stacey. Kate was stuck in the middle of the controversy and provided insight into both sides. Kate has loyalty to the accused basketball players because of her newfound romantic relationship with one of the team’s star players Ben, but she was also a friend to Stacey years ago in middle school.

What We Saw tells the story of just how accepted our society is of slut shaming and sexism. From the second, charges are brought against the male students, there is a general consensus among the students and faculty that Stacey is just a slut who is trying to ruin the boys’ futures. There is never any concern about the victim or what type of PTSD she must be suffering after being assaulted and having the damning images spread online.

Kate’s feelings and actions were very authentic in the novel. She’s not a trailblazing feminist by any means, but I appreciated how despite her boyfriend and friends warning her to stay out of the controversy, she made it a point of digging around for the truth about what happened at the party.

This book will bring you to tears as you realize that there are so many women and men out there who think a rape victim “asked for it.” The ending is far from a HEA, but very realistic and honest like the rest of the novel. 

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel for review!

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing review :) Sounds like you got hold of a great new read that should be shouted about from the rooftops. I'm off to check it out. Thanks for sharing :)