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 have read a lot of books on sexual assault. I think each one is important in its own way. While this one may not be one of my favorites, I still thought it was powerful and a very important read. What made this book a bit more interesting is that we never get the POV of the rape victim. No, this is about the people surrounding both the victim and the rapist and how muddled the truth can get and how there can be more than two sides to a story.
First, we meet Haley. Haley has just been removed from the college soccer team because she suffered her third concussion and it's too risky for her to play anymore. She is also roommates with Jenny, the rape victim. Haley and Jenny really don't interact much prior to the rape. Haley spent most her time with her teammates and Jenny is a premed student, so she is always at the library. Haley doesn't hesitate to offer her support when she finds out what happened to Jenny and she quickly gets sucked in, maybe more than she wanted to.
Then there is Richard. Richard was not even at the party where Jenny was raped, but he is housemates with Jordan, the guy accused. Okay, Richard was a hard guy to like at times, but I think I sympathized with him. Jordan tells him that he and Jenny had consensual sex and I can see why it would be hard to believe that someone you think you know is a rapist. Richard makes some off color jokes at times, but he said something once that really made me think. He said that since he wasn't at the party or in the room with Jenny and Jordan, no one except the two of them can say for certain what happened. Richard says that it's hard to determine whether Jordan is lying to him or himself or whether he's telling the truth, but that's what the investigation is for and he's not a bad guy because he doesn't necessarily want to take sides and because he wants to let them do their job. I kind of get where he is coming from with that. I mean, I am all for believing the victim 100%. I just think that if a male friend of mine were accused of something so heinous, it would be hard for me to automatically think he's a rapist. Does that even make sense?
Richard and Haley meet and start up a romance. I probably could have done without that part, but I guess it did make for an added level of drama. And they did have nice chemistry together. But they are on opposite sides of this whole thing. This book did a great job of talking about consent and what it means and they showed the ugly side that can come from rape accusations, manly victim blaming. There was a lot of victim blaming here and it turns my stomach. Richard even made a couple of comments like that and I was glad that Haley put him in his place. I do think there was some character development there though so that was good.
Now in between the Haley and Richard chapters, there were also snippets of what happened the night of the party. It was kind of an objective, third party account as opposed to being told from the POV of the victim or the rapist. These snippets give us the truth, a little bit at a time.
I loved the main characters and all the secondary characters as well. There were so many viewpoints in this book and I could see everyone's side in this. This author did a great job of showing the emotions that come about after a rape, not just with the victim, but with the people surrounding both the victim and the rapist. This book will make you think and it will make you angry, but it is such an important one to read.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one.