Author: Maria Padian
Release date: October 10th, 2016
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
My Rating: ★★★★
Disclaimer: I was sent this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Algonquin Young Reads for the physical ARC! I highly appreciate it.
Trigger warning: Sexual assault
Synopsis: Everyone has heard a different version of what happened that night at MacCallum College. Haley was already in bed when her roommate, Jenny, arrived home shell-shocked from the wild Conundrum House party. Richard heard his housemate Jordan brag about the cute freshman he hooked up with. When Jenny formally accuses Jordan of rape, Haley and Richard find themselves pushed onto opposite sides of the school’s investigation. But conflicting interests fueling conflicting versions of the story may make bringing the truth to light nearly impossible--especially when reputations, relationships, and whole futures are riding on the verdict.
TRIGGER WARNING: THIS BOOK CONTAINS RAPE AS DOES THIS REVIEW
In case you didn't see the huge ass trigger warning, I say again, this book and review discusses rape, so if that triggers you, I would highly advise against reading this review and probably the book.
Anyway, on to the real stuff. I heard about this book, from I don't know where, but I decided to shoot an email to the publishers an request an ARC. As you can tell from the synopsis, this book is a young adult book that is centered around a rape in college. I think it's very important that rape, especially rape culture in college be addressed. Rape is a very serious issue and the culture that surrounds rape in college is sickening, and that's reflected in this book. Don't expect a happy ending where everything is wrapped up nicely. It doesn't happen because that is the reality some rape victims face.
I'm going to talk some more for a bit, but I'm going to keep things real general because I don't want to spoil anything. This is something that needs to be experienced blind and thought about while being read.
For starters, the case surrounding the rape. I was very dissapointed at how the rape case was handled by the college, but unfortunately, that is the reality of how some rape cases are handled. Colleges would rather have things swept along quickly and settled rather than find the truth or convict when they know a rape occurred. Kinda a spoiler, but I think it is a relevant one, is that the police doesn't get involved because the victim didn't want them to. Honestly, this frustrated me beyond belief that she didn't want the justice system to pursue this, but I guess it was her choice, though I think it was a bit misguided.
I really appreciate how the author tackled the rape culture not just how the college itself handled the rape, but how the students did. You get to see how the victim, rapist, victim's friends, and rapist's friends all respond in this situation. Their reactions are all different, and it was enlightening to read this because sometimes I forget that there are people out there who are not sympathetic towards rape victims, who actually have the nerve to blame rape victims. How in the world could someone blame a victim for rape? As much as this sickened me, I'm glad the author tackled it because it shows all sides to the situation.
A separate yet related arc of the story was the budding relationship between the victim's roommate and the rapist's housemate. I really really really like really enjoyed watching them try to get together despite everything happening around them. They are so cute with each other and just how they interacted was literally #couplegoals.
One problem I had with the book was the format the story was told in. So in between each chapter was a flashback back to the night of the rape. The flashbacks were told in various point of views and sometimes more than one at the same time, without making it clear that the pov had changed. I didn't think the writing during the flashbacks was very good. It was confusing and awkward, and I think it was meant to be more elegant and descriptive than the normal chapters, but it was just executed poorly.
Overall, I really quite enjoyed this book. I appreciated what was being portrayed and the importance of the underlying messages. The relationship explored was also hella cute, so that was a bonus. While the writing wasn't necessarily the greatest, I think the plot held more weight, and in this case, that's what mattered.