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
Published September 22nd 2015 by Harper Teen
Four and a half stars: An emotional and powerful tale that reflects on some disturbing aspects of our society.
Kate Weston awakens with a massive hangover. She drank too much at the party last night, and nearly passed out. Thankfully, her life long best friend, Ben, had her best interests at heart. Ben saw her safely home. Kate's phone begins to ping with pictures and texts from last night. It seems that she wasn't the only one who had too much to drink. On Monday at school, everyone is whispering about Stacey. Then all hell breaks loose when several members of the high school basketball team are arrested for rape. Rumors swirl about a video of the alleged incident. What really happened that night? Did people stand by and watch a girl raped and photographed, and then they did nothing to stop it?
What I Liked:
- What We Saw is an intense and powerful read that will disgust you and have you questioning the standards of society. Now days with smartphones and social media, life has become extremely transparent. Drunken behavior at a party is filmed, photographed and loaded online for all the world to see, with no thought to the damaging consequences. What makes it worse is when the disturbing behavior is posted, and no one does anything to stop it. This is the basis for What We Saw, which draws inspiration from the real life rape case at Steubenville High School. This is an absolute read for all teens, and a book that should be discussed. I cannot recommend this one enough.
- This story centers around rape. A young girl who is extremely intoxicated is violated by two star basketball players in a room full of witnesses, who do nothing to stop the despicable behavior. The entire event is videoed and later uploaded on social media, and then quickly removed. It is a troubling story that focuses on slut shaming, cover up and society writing off abhorrent behavior. What is most disturbing is the fact that this is all based on a true story. It was an eye opening read, and I appreciated how well the author handled the story. It very clearly defines rape and exposes the troubling behavior in our society.
- Slut shaming is a strong part of the story. Many believe that the victim got what she deserved because she came from a poor, single parent home, and she was labeled as loose and slutty. She was drunk and throwing herself at the guys before she passed out, so obviously she was asking for it. Slut shaming and blaming the victim are two detrimental and erroneous beliefs in our society, but they exist, and we need to eliminate them. No girl ever deserves to be raped. Hopefully, this story will continue to educate people and help eradicate these misguided beliefs.
- At the heart of the story is Kate Weston. A young girl who also becomes intoxicated at the same party, but unlike the victim, a friend took her home. When Kate learns about the alleged event at the party, she can't let it go. She continues to dig and dig, until she uncovers the truth. It takes great courage for Kate to do what she does. I loved Kate's tenacity and her strong moral compass. Kate gave me hope, and I applauded her decision. How many of us would have the courage to stand up and do the right thing?
- This book takes on some big issues facing teens today. You have the transparency of social media, teen drinking, rape, peer pressure and slut shaming. It is real, raw, intense and sad. Many wonder how a room full of people could stand by and watch as a girl who is intoxicated and passed out is raped and no one stops it. Certainly, disturbing behavior, but it is speaks volumes about human behavior and peer pressure. It is much easier to go along with the popular crowd then risk standing up and being ostracized. It takes someone with courage to do the right thing. I only hope that after reading this book, teens will be inclined to make the correct decision when placed in difficult situations.
- I appreciated the focus on social media. Teenagers in this day and age are faced with the pressure of having their every move posted on social media for all to see, not realizing that one reckless act could destroy everything. The author exposes the negative aspects of social media. Again this book is conversation starter, one that you should read and discuss with the teens in your life, especially when it comes to the dangers of social media.
- Even though this was a shocking and troubling read, I am glad that I read this book. It is an important, must read book for young people. I urge you to read this and discuss this with your teens.
And The Not So Much:
- I had to do some digging to learn the actual basis for the story. Nowhere in my advanced reader's copy is there a mention of the real life case that this book is based upon. I would love for the author to have included a note discussing the inspiration for the story, perhaps it will be in the final copy. I think it is important for readers to know that this is based on a true story, and for them to understand what happened to the real life perpetrators.
- The ending is a bit abrupt, and I was left with a couple of questions. Mainly, I wanted to know what type of charges or repercussions the witnesses who watched and did nothing faced. Was there any type of punishment for those who stood by as a girl was raped right in front of them, and then later they participated in covering it up?
- As I read about Stacey who was labeled a slut and shamed, I was hoping to get a glimpse at the girl behind the story. Who was Stacey really? Unfortunately, we get little insight into Stacey. I would very much like the author to have focused a bit on her, to show more of the girl behind the slut label.
- This is a minor issue, I was disappointed that nothing came of the story line with the mother who was a mega coupon clipper and hoarder. I thought that Ben would try and come to an understanding with his mother regarding her detrimental behavior, but nothing happens. Granted, I understood that her behavior was a driving force behind Ben's decisions and choices, but I still would have liked to see some type of resolution.
What We Saw is a must read book for teens. It is an eye opening and disturbing read based on real life events. It centers around rape, slut shaming, teen drinking, social media and cover up. This is a book that exposes the ills in our society, and it opens a line of discussion. I urge anyone with teens to read and start a conversation with their teens regarding the issues in this book.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.