★★★★★ · book review

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler | Book Review

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 1.23.42 PMTitle: What We Saw
Author: Aaron Hartzler
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: YA Contemporary, Realistic fiction
Series: No
Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
Pages: 336 (Kindle)
My Rating: starstarstarstarstar

Trigger warning: rape


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. (via Goodreads)

What I Thought

I always have a hard time explaining why I like a book when it deals with such dark topics but here I am. What We Saw is a thoroughly thought-provoking and important read in my opinion. It explores relationships, rape culture, motivation, and victim-blaming and it is a very well done book.

In today’s media we have, unfortunately, seen many rape cases and propaganda that perpetuates the idea that “boys will be boys” and that by dressing a certain way “girls are asking for it” and this book combats those ideas and speaks to why it is important to speak up and do what is right even if it is difficult.

The narrator, Kate, is a soccer player and a national merit semi finalist with a love for science. I was able to relate to her because of these things though for a while her love life is more her focus. The story opens with Kate suffering a hangover from a huge party the night before and picks up steam as Kate realizes that more than just drinking and dancing happened at this party.

I read the first 5 chapters over the course of two days, I read the rest of the book in mere hours. I liked the simplicity of the writing. I went into this pretty blind and suggest that anyone who wants to read it (and isn’t triggered) do the same. Let this book spark some of your own thoughts.


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