Review: What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler.

Title – What We Saw
Author – Aaron Hartzler
Publication Date – November 23rd 2015 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia
ISBN – 9780062452979
My Rating – ★★★★★/5

Kate Weston is having trouble remembering what happened the night before at John Doone’s party. She can remember having shots with Stacey, Ben taking her home and feeling like there may be something more stirring between them then just friendship.

When a photo of Stacey passed passed out is posted online Kate starts to suspect that she may be missing more than just a few hours at a party.

When Kate hears that someone has pressed charges against four star players on the basketball team the news shocks her. Her town is really into it’s basketball and this puts the girl who pressed charges as the town pariah.

As the story starts to unfold every answer Kate finds has her wondering the same thing – where was Ben while this horrible crime was being committed?

I received a copy of What We Saw from HarperCollins New Zealand to review. This is Aaron Hartzler’s debut novel and was inspired by true events.

I think everyone needs to read this book but especially teenage girls. After Stacey presses charges for sexual assault against four teenage boys she’s called all kinds of names by students and adults. Most people thought that she’d bought what happened on herself because of the way she dressed or how much she drunk. Girls and women should be allowed to whatever makes them feel comfortable and confident with out being told they’re “sluts” or that they’re “asking for it.” No woman is asking to be raped with the clothes she wears.

Women also need to stop being blamed for how much they drink. They should be able to feel safe around friends no matter how much they’ve drunk. It’s the males that need to understand when it’s gone past the point of someone being able to consent. And the whole “boys will be boys” thing really needs to stop! That’s not remotely helpful and just makes the whole situation worse, like it’s okay for guys to act as jerks and treat women like crap because it’s just boys being boys.

I remember when the nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence were stolen and leaked on the CY4MOaVUAAItzoqinternet with out her permission people, especially women, were blaming Jennifer for taking the photos in the first place. No, it’s not rape but she was still violated and not only by the people that posted her photos but by everyone that looked at them too. She never gave her consent for those people to look at her body. And none of that is her fault, it’s her body and she’s free to do with it what she wants.

There is a part in What We Saw where Kate and Ben are at a play of Grease! and Kate starts seeing it in a different light. That it tells girls that they have to change to be what a guy wants them to be. I’m not going to get into all of it here but I remember wondering why Sandy changed for Danny when there was nothing wrong with the way she was before.

I really liked Kate. It must be really hard for someone to speak out when the whole town could turn against her. She’d already seen what happened to Stacey and Phoebe. But no one ever said that doing the right thing was an easy thing to do. If it was more people would do it. I don’t think it helped that this all took place in a small town with small minds and people that follow the crowd.

I highly recommend this book. It was a bit graphic is places but this book needs to be read. If this was Aaron’s debut, I can’t wait to see what he comes out with next.

*Thank you HarperCollins for sending me a copy to review*

Have you read What We Saw? Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it.

– Aimee.

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