ARC Review: What We Saw

What We SawWhat We Saw by Aaron Hartzler
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

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.


“All I’m saying is there are rules. You don’t get wasted. You don’t take off your top. You don’t flirt with raging drunks. You don’t dress like a slut. You have to play by the rules. If you don’t, this is what happens.”

I remember the Steubenville case (if you want to read about it). I was sixteen and I remember wondering why this particular case was getting so much attention. Unfortunately these kinds of things happened every day, but why did this case get such nationwide coverage, hell even global coverage. So I started paying attention to the news.

It seemed people couldn’t figure out why she was accusing them of rape. I mean she was a wild girl, liked to party, liked to drink, liked to have fun. And they were boys. Boys with bright futures ahead of them and college football careers. And she couldn’t even remember anything because of how much she drank that night.

“Well, I just think it’s awful what that Stallard girl is doing to them. Dragging their good names through the mud. If you ask me, they oughta arrest her mother and put that poor girl in a good Christian home.”

This case brought out a lot of fear for people, even me. I mean, we were both the same age, I like to have fun and party, it could have just as easily been me or any other sixteen year old girl. It also brought up a lot of questions. One of them: is not being able to say no the same as saying yes?

“Nothing is exactly as it appears. The closer you look, the more you see.”

What We Saw is based on this case. It’s about a sixteen year old girl, Stacey, who was raped by her classmates and everyone’s reactions to this. Told from a classmate’s point of view, Kate Weston, What We Saw talks about the blaming of rape survivors, slut-shaming, and feminism.

She says the word feminist like Will did last night—with scorn and derision—as if she’s spitting something out.

“Why does everybody say ‘feminist’ that way?”

“What way?”

“The way Dooney kept saying ‘herpes’ after health class last year. Like it’s this terrible, unspeakable thing.”

This book made me so fucking angry. I knew it would, these types of books usually do. I was seriously disgusted by 80% of the characters actions/behaviors. But Kate was so realistic and she goes through so many emotions in such a realistic way: apathy, concern, anger, denial, and sadness as the rumors change and more information comes to light.

But despite my disgust at most of the characters dialogue I think this is a book everyone should read, because it’s just so accurate. So on September 22, when this book is released, I hope everyone checks it out because it’s so important.

**ARC provided in exchange for an honest review**

5 stars

9 thoughts on “ARC Review: What We Saw

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