How much would you have to see to speak up?
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 awaits them if they choose to speak up?
National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti calls What We Saw "a smart, sensitive, and gripping story about the courage it takes to do what's right."
This book is a raw and honest story about a girl named Katie, a bystander in a rape case in Coral Sands High School. Hartzler captures this so well and realistically because honestly, this could happen to anyone in school. Katie goes to a party at Dooney's place, one of the Buccaneer basketball players in Coral Sands. After being driven home from being drunk from childhood best friend, Ben Cody she later learns that there was a report filed against Dooney and his friends for sexual assault against one of her year 7 friend, Stacey Stallard.
THIS PART WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS**
So for those that have read the book (or the really naughty people who read the spoilery reviews before the amazing books),
this book made me feel happy and horrified. It jumps in with Ben breaking out of the friend zone, and Kate and Ben start a relationship. It was then filled with kissing and sappy passages which I originally thought was rushed and unnecessary, but I later realised that this had helped capture the betrayal towards the end so well.
This book talks a lot about people we perceive as "great". A lot of blind faith was placed Dooney and his friends just because they were good basketball players that they forgot that Stacey did nothing wrong by reporting something serious (rape). They defended themselves as innocent just so they could get a good scholarship which was crap and nothing important compared to this. This novel helped raise awareness for something serious like rape and tells us that something like this can happen to anyone (like I said). I really enjoyed how the book started- a flashback on a soccer game when Kate and Ben were younger and how this helped capture the scene in the end: where she recognises the scar she gave Ben during the game and finds that Ben was there on the night Stacey was raped. It was a good way to start this book and connect the start and end points together.
Kate grew tremendously as a character- she started off as an unquestioning, wow-everything-is-great girl and the person who never really had any second thoughts about anything she saw. She then grew to be a strong character, especially after her breakup and uncovering the truth.
I really like Hartzler's way of writing and the tone kept through this book. The description helped with the towns character and how I felt around Kate's friends and family. It particularly contributed to the part where Kate and her friends watch the rape video, it was so brutal, disturbing and twisted, but in a great way because I distinctly remember wanting to throw up during the time when I read the passage.
Overall, I think that Hartzler captured themes of rape, betrayal and friendship really well. It raises awareness, especially for young people about tragedies like these that happen commonly around the globe. The plot was interesting and kept me wondering and the novel was paced well, leaving me neither bored and tired of it.
I give this book a rating of 4/5 stars.
Want to read this book?
Here are some places nearby you can purchase this book:
Boomerang Books: http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/What-We-Saw/Aaron-Hartzler/book_9780062430625.htm
Angus and Robertson Bookworld: http://www.angusrobertson.com.au/books/what-we-saw-aaron-hartzler/p/9780062452979
Latin for library,