(YA Review) What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 8.28.19 PMWhat We Saw
Author: Aaron Hartzler
Published: Sept. 22, 2015
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Themes: Peer Pressure, Drugs, Alcohol, Sex, Rape
Rating: 5 stars
Why’d I read it?:
This book covers a topic that is so important, which is our societies’ tendency towards victim-shaming, blaming the victim, and generally the appalling “rape culture” we live within.
Hartzler, Aaron. What We Saw. HarperTeen. 2015. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0062338747.
Formats available: paperback, ebook, hardcover Paperback $6.87. Kindle $10.99


Synopsis: (from amazon)

Critically acclaimed memoirist Aaron Hartzler, author of Rapture Practice, takes an unflinching look at what happens to a small town when some of its residents commit a terrible crime. This honest, authentic debut novel—inspired by the events in the Steubenville rape case—will resonate with readers who’ve ever walked that razor-thin line between guilt and innocence that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time.

The party at John Doone’s last Saturday night is a bit of a blur. Kate Weston can piece together most of the details: Stacey Stallard handing her shots, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early. . . . 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 questions: Who witnessed what happened to Stacey? And what responsibility do they have to speak up about what they saw?


My Thoughts:

This is such an important story to be told because it sparks discussion on a topic which is often swept under the rug and ignored. Rape Culture in the U.S. is a serious problem. Victim-shaming and victim-blaming are tendencies which run rampant in our society. This story is inspired by the true story of the Steubenville rape case 0f 2012 and also of other similar cases to arise lately. Teens throw a party in which there is a lot of drinking and drugs. One girl drinks so much she becomes unconscious and the next day accuses several members of the school’s basketball team of sexually assaulting her while unconscious. The story deals with concepts of truth and lies, perception, betrayal and trust. It also deals strongly with the idea of opening your eyes and seeing beyond the pressures of our community, and also of how to do what’s right once you’ve seen the truth. It can be very hard to see the truth, and to speak up when all of your friends and even your entire town seem to be willing you towards blindness and silence.

This book was quite excellent in the way it broaches such serious topics, and while it in no way flinches from the true horror of these kinds of events (gang-rape of an unconscious girl is discussed), the author keeps the story from being so graphic as to be distracting from the true issues of right and wrong. I highly recommend this to readers of all ages and gender, and I challenge you to consider what you would do in such a situation. Being human means doing more than spectating; it means we must act to create the world we wish to live in.

 

Silhouette of man in the fog in a forest

luther-king

the-world-is-a-dangerous-place

 


Extras:

** On a personal note: 

  • Unfortunately we live in a time where sexual assault is increasingly common, especially against women.
  • Most often, the person assaulting you is someone you know. You may be friends or even love this person. Even if its a friend or loved one, sexual assault is wrong.
    • If you said “no,” then it is wrong.
    • If you were incapable of saying yes or no, it was wrong.
    • If you were drunk, high, asleep, or even wearing “provocative clothes,” sexual assault is still wrong!
    • Every one has the right to wear, do, say, and act exactly the way they want without fear of assault.
    • Please don’t let anyone convince you that this was your fault. It is never your fault when you are assaulted.
  • Please be sure to see a medical specialist and speak with a trusted adult if you think you may have been assaulted.

Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
You might also enjoy:

4 thoughts on “(YA Review) What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s