Source: HarperTeen

Friday, October 02, 2015

Review: What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

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I received this book for free from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: What We Saw by Aaron HartzlerWhat We Saw by Aaron Hartzler
Published by HarperTeen on September 22, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: HarperTeen
Buy on Amazon

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.

You know how I would describe “being speechless” by something? It’s when you’re overwhelmed with so much emotions that words escape you. Something made you happy so much that you could only cry. Something made you so sad that your throat tightens and you can croak nothing out. Something made you so angry that find it hard to mutter a single word because you’re just fuming inside. This is basically what happened to me after reading What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler. It rendered me completely speechless.

I honestly don’t know how to review this book, if I can even review this book and give it the justice it deserves. It’s the sort that you know everyone – and I mean, everyone – should read; the sort in which when people ask you why they should bother allocating time in their lives to read it, it’d  be hard for you to explain and you simply just say, “Please, just do it. You’d miss such an important message otherwise.”

I, however, would add something else to that: “Because it made me sad. Because it made me angry. And because it made me ashamed of ourselves.”

There are three kinds of angles in a story when it comes to rape and rape-shaming: the victim’s, the rapist’s, and the mob’s. This is a story of what happens behind the scenes, how the people around the two central figures of a fucked-up situation reacted when and after the rape and sexual harrassment of a schoolmate happened, and how the very same people coped with it when the victim and the rapists, as well as their small, no-name town suddenly were at the world’s centerstage.

And trust me, reading it is not a all rainbows and butterflies.

Here’s the thing, ladies and gents: this book is real. This book is so fucking real that it hurts. A girl was raped by a couple of popular athletes, a bunch of boys who were heralded as the town’s “saviors” because of their skills in basketball, a bunch of fucking cowards who took advantage of an unconscious girl and then thought nothing of it. You think that by 2015, we as humanity as a whole would have gotten rid of our barbaric way of thinking and moved on with the times, but this book, which perfectly mirrors the mentalities of many of us today, proves to us otherwise. Do you guys remember the Steubenville High School rape case? We all know how the media portrayed that one, and how so many people turned their backs on a vulnerable, helpless young lady and instead defended their town’s heroes despite the atrocious thing they did. In the end, however, the boys were found guilty, but something was said after the announcements of their verdicts that shocked and shook me to the core: the fact that a reporter, a female reporter at that, said how it was a pity that their “promising careers” were now ruined.

Doesn’t that just make you want to see the world burn to ashes?

This is what you should expect in this book: a mirror of this kind of mentality. The indifference. The injustice. The way how some people think it’s okay to go to a party dressed however you want, but as soon as you’ve been violated, it’s your fault because you acted like a slut, you drank too much, your skirt was too short. You’re a friend until you get your school’s basketball heroes into trouble because they were stupid enough to think a no, a silence, meant a yes. And how one girl sees all of this, feels rightly uncomfortable by it, and so strives to seek the truth, even if it meant going against the tide. Even if it meant “betraying” her own best friends.

Because as cliché as it sounds, the truth hurts, but it shall set you free.

This book was absolutely heartfelt and so heart-breaking at the same time. It made me feel so much pain for particular characters, knowing this is the story of many girls out there who have been sexually abused and yet find themselves alone and harrassed even further; at the same time, it made me feel so much anger at those who refuse to see beyond their narrow-minded ways, knowing that so many people still think this way, and will continue to perpetuate that mentality to their own kids, unless we stand up just like what Kate did, see the greater picture, and encourage others to do so.

This is not a book to be missed, folks. Please, for the love of all things holy, read this book and spread it. Sometimes, taking the first step is to see what it’s like in their shoes.


4.5 Hot Espressos

Audiobook Review: Paperweight by Meg Haston

Audiobook Review: Paperweight by Meg Haston

Posted by on 09/25/2015 • 5 Comments

I really enjoyed this book as much as you can enjoy something about such a topic. I listened to this on audio and at first I was having a hard time getting into it, but the longer I listened, the more the narrator really did fit with the story. She voiced Stevie so well, that I was able to really feel for her and get that emotional impact from the book. Although this book appears to be about a girl with an eating disorder, it was really so much more. This is one of those rare instances when I really don’t like the MC, at least at for most of the book, but it actually made me like the book more.

Stevie is sent away to a treatment center for…

Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Posted by on 06/03/2015 • 11 Comments

Don’t be fooled by my 3-star rating. Because despite all my problems with it, I actually… liked this book. O_O

First of all, you guys know me – anything with science and traveling through space/time, I’m 100% game for that. I like exploring all kinds of possibilities and going beyond what we deem as reality. There’s a kind of poetry in it, you know? The feeling that there are still so much out there that we need to understand and discover, that the universe is so much bigger and grander than we could possibly perceive, and that amazes me. It’s a romantic, philosophical, and awe-inspiring concept, so seeing it as the central concept in a book made me giddy with glee.

However, I didn’t expect that the book would largely be… romantic-driven. I…

Review: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Review: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Posted by on 04/28/2015 • 18 Comments

This book was so confusing at first, but ended up making so much sense and really stuck with me. The way it is written pulls you in right away. Even though I wasn’t quite sure what was going on when I started, I was compelled to keep reading. I hoped that it would make sense to me as I got further in. It did and it didn’t. What I mean is that I realized why it was written how it was, and I understood it, but it was still a very confusing story. It fit perfectly with the main character though, and the mental illness that it is about. This was a brilliant book, and I have already recommended it to many people.

Caden is the main character, and the…

Audiobook Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Audiobook Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Posted by on 04/14/2015 • 14 Comments

This was fantastic and great to read. I loved that this had so much going for it. A great plot full of deception, lies, romance, and magic. Besides that, it was filled with some great action and I loved the characters. I think this would have been a joy to read, but it was enhanced with the audio. I often cringe when I know I am getting myself into a series, but I am really glad that I started this one and I am interested to know where the story will go.

Mare is a pretty smart girl. Growing up in poverty, and knowing what is coming to her in her near future, she does the best she can. She is a thief, but she is good at it….

Review: The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer

Review: The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer

Posted by on 03/26/2015 • 5 Comments

This was interesting and creepy. I didn’t really care much for most of the characters, but I did feel for Stephen. I found myself really feeling bad for him. Devon was horrible, and Cara just didn’t seem believable to me. In general though, I thought the story was pretty good. Based on old town stories and people who are set in there ways. It’s hard being an outsider, especially in a town like Spencer. Where things aren’t quite right, it’s hard to know if the old stories hold any truth, or if it is just the overactive imaginations of everyone.

Stephen doesn’t feel like he fits in, and he isn’t sure if he really wants to. He just wants to go back to Denver and away from the small…

Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Posted by on 03/12/2015 • 18 Comments

If I could describe this book in one word, it would be quiet.

Yes, Emmy & Oliver is something that I would call a “quiet contemporary”. I’m not even sure where that came from, or if it’s a thing, or something I made up on a whim, but I know deep inside that this is the best word for it. I try to think of another description, but there is nothing that fits as this. Emmy & Oliver is meaningful, thoughtful, and like I said, quiet.

How is it so, you ask? I’ve read a number of contemporaries over the years, many of them involving issues and concepts teenagers face during their youth, experiences that mirror our own and lessons that are valuable to us, too. But while that is so, there are times when…

Review: Liars Inc by Paula Stokes

Review: Liars Inc by Paula Stokes

Posted by on 03/05/2015 • 13 Comments

If you’re looking for a YA mystery with an interesting premise and cast of characters, you need not look far because Liars Inc pretty much distinguishes itself from the rest effortlessly. I mean, look at the following factors and I dare you not to get excited, because I’m pretty sure you will:

✓ A male hero that actually feels like an authentic male hero ✓ A half-Indian love interest who is so comfortable with her sensuality ✓ A premise that revolves around lies and covering one’s ass with more lies ✓ A whodunit murder mystery that involves getting arrested by the FBI (or, trying not to)…

Okay, maybe the last bit is something we’ve seen a couple of times in other books, but the first three are stuff I haven’t seen yet,…