Tuesday, September 22, 2015

BBReview: "What We Saw" by Aaron Hartzler

Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Publishing Date: September 22nd, 2015
Page Count: 336
Source: BEA 2015
Format: Paperback ARC

Description from
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.
What We Saw is a very deep book that deals with rape, but in a way I haven't read before. Normally, the MC is the one who has been assaulted, but this time it is the classmate of the girl who has been assaulted.

Kate is a super smart and caring girl. She also has this need to do what is right, no matter what. Stacey gets raped at a big high school party. Kate was there, was super drunk, and was taken home before everything happened. She now experiences guilt, because it could have been her or one of her friends. Her and Stacey used to play soccer together, and she feels that somehow she should have prevented this. The finger gets pointed at the Basketball star of the school, which jeopardizes their chances at winning during the championship game. The entire town turns against Stacey, blaming her for what happened, and the only person who seems to have her back is Kate.

Her friends try telling her to stay out of it, that it has nothing to do with her, but she can't listen. She has this need to find out the truth. The only problem is that whoever is on Stacey's side becomes a pariah. Kate has to figure out this mystery secretly. She doesn't want to be an outcast, but at the same time she can't let Stacey's attacker get away.

The ending is almost too real. Everything about this book was completely believable, but I wish the ending would have been a little more "happy-ending". The truth comes out, but things still aren't good. Everything has changed for the entire town.

What I loved about this book was the realness of the situation, emotions it evoked in me, and the genuinity of Kate. This entire town turns their backs on a victim, just because she blames a basketball star, who is a "good kid". It's sickening, but yet it happens all the time. I experienced so many emotions during this book. Kate has a budding romance so at times I felt happy and safe, other times though I felt so angry because of what people (including Kate's friends) were saying about Stacey. I was literally yelling at the book at times. Then, when Kate finds out the truth, I balled my eyes with her. Kate is an amazing person and MC. She did what was unpopular and not "ok", because she knew it was the right thing to do. She didn't owe anybody, she just wanted to do what was right.

I loved this story. Although there were times when I was literally yelling at the book, it wasn't because it was bad. It was because of how real and frustrating the situation was. In this story, the town and school blames the victim. It was so frustrating to hear people say things like, "well maybe she shouldn't have worn that to the party". Seriously!? Kate was an amazing MC who didn't back down, and made sure to get the truth heard. It was the super unpopular thing to do, but she did it anyways. The ending was heart breaking, but it was real. Very, very good book.

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 5/5

**The books cover, description, and info was all found on Goodreads. A link back has been provided. All other work and ideas are of my own creation. This book was received for free while attending BEA 2015.**