ARC Review: What We Saw

Title: What We Saw
Author: Aaron Hartzler
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publication Date: September 22nd, 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
My Rating: 3 Stars

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.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Please note that all quote mentioned here were taken from the ARC copy, not the final version.

What We Saw is different from the normal books that I read. I mostly read contemporary romance novels, but this one is far from it. This one is about rape and how rapists can get away with the crime they committed, and how the victim somehow gets blamed for being raped.

What We Saw started out slow for me. I was already 30% in when I started seeing an inkling of what was promised from the synopsis. The first 40% were really slow and I was bored. The latter 60% were at normal pace, and that made it better. Although I don't like the pace of this book though, I must admit that there are lots of amazing quotes in this novel.

This book has a really great message, and the point made by the author really should be known by all. It's so unfair how Stacey was blamed for being drunk and for wearing sexy clothes, when most of the people from the same party were in the same state. It was so unfair how everyone covered for the rapists' actions just because they were popular, part of the varsity, and because boys will be boys. But another wonderful point made by the author is how sometimes, we blame the victim because the idea that the same thing would happen to us is even scarier than just blaming the victim and saying that she is different from all of us.

Aside from that, this book also featured romance, a supportive family, true friends, and a very brave girl who came forward when no else would. When she knows she'll lose almost everything. When she knows that she'll become a pariah. There was this point when Kate came forward and was told that she did the right thing. She replied that it sure didn't feel like it, and the detective told her, "Sometimes that's how you know."

Overall, the message of this book is so important that I feel like it's a must read, but at the same time it's so hard to recommend it since I felt bored in the first 40% and even after then, I found myself skipping some of the narratives.

3.5 kinda 'meh' stars

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