A very honest look at what happens when a college freshman accuses a fellow student of rape. The story is narrated through alternating viewpoints, though not those of the victim and the attacker. The story is told by Haley and Richard, acquaintances of the parties involved in the rape case. In between their alternating chapters, we get a third-person point of view that tells us, slowly, what actually transpired on the evening in question.
Campus rape is a very real problem, as is the rape culture pervasive on college campuses. What happens when both parties have been drinking? What constitutes consent? These and many other questions are slowly covered here in a believable way. The allegations are made by Haley’s roommate against Richard’s housemate. Complicating matters is the fact that both Haley and Richard get deeply involved in the college’s investigation as they begin their own relationship. Through their eyes, we see how other students involved in the situation react, how bullying of Jenny begins, and the successes and pitfalls of the college’s investigative system. Every twist and turn is realistic and heartbreaking, until the reader is allowed to finally put all the pieces together through flashbacks to the night in question.
To me, the story was real. From other students stretching the truth to protect themselves, to the confusion over reconstructing the actual timeline of events, to Jenny’s need to convince everyone she’s not lying, it provides a complete picture of what campus sexual assault looks like, sounds like, and feels like, albeit mostly from a bystander’s perspective.The characters are real, some sympathetic, some not so much, but they all are people I could clearly tie to students from my college days. Looking back on my college career, I think I was very much like Haley, unsure of the magnitude of the situation, until I helped a friend through something similar. The reality makes it a hard read, but I still feel it’s an essential one for every college student, and quite honestly, every college administrator. The book releases next Tuesday, October 4.
I received a digital galley from Netgalley and Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for a fair, honest review.
Recommend: Yes, with no reservations
Rating: 5 stars