This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
(Description nicked from Goodreads.com.)
“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.”
I find myself very conflicted about this book. I think much of this feeling stems from the choice of main characters. Most books about rape focus on the victim, families and friends of victims, or those who were present at the time the rape occurred. In this book, the author chooses to use two people unrelated to either the victim or the perpetrator. Neither were present at the party where the rape occurred, and neither have close ties to those involved.
What I found worse was the focus on the relationship between the two main characters to the detriment of the story about the rape itself. This is a story that could have been told without the characters having any involvement with either victim or perpetrator. It could’ve been told by simply having them hear about a campus rape. That would at least have given them an excuse for focusing on themselves. As it stands, both characters come off as self-centered.
It doesn’t help that none of the characters are really all that likable. We know very little of Jenny, the rape victim, beyond the fact of her rape. The perpetrator is smug and seems to glory in the cover-up he is engineering. Everyone who was at the party is more concerned with getting in trouble than in helping someone who was attacked. Even those trying to help Jenny come across as a stereotype of feminists, insulting men in general and doing things “for Jenny’s own good”.
On the plus side, this novel does highlight many of the problems with reporting campus rape. The author details the limitations that are placed on consequences for rapists on a college campus, as well as the sad fact that many colleges do not have anyone dedicated to investigating rape claims. Most make do with appointing a faculty member to investigate the issue, and of course the campus has no ability to bring legal consequences against someone they deem guilty. It is also genuinely heartbreaking to see jenny’s fear at encountering her rapist on campus with no way to protect herself unless she involves the police.
The part of the book that I appreciated the most was the scene at where the two main characters role play enthusiastic consent. On the surface, this concept sounds like a mood killer, but the book successfully portrays it as something that can be very sensual. It’s discussions like this that need to be happening on college campuses all across the country, and it’s a good starting place for readers who have never heard of this concept before.
I’m not sure if this book’s positives outweigh its negatives enough for me to recommend it. If nothing else, this is not a book that I would recommend to somebody new to novels tackling the subject. This is better suited to those who have already read novels about the consequences of rape itself and are ready to move on to the broader issues in society.