Book Review: What We Saw | Wordy Wednesday


So this is technically supposed to be an update on The List, but I’ve only read two or three books on it since the last update, and I just finished (ten minutes ago) an incredible book that I’m bursting to talk about. So I’m switching things around.


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.

I heard about this from a few different places, and at first I didn’t really want to read it. I had an idea in my head of what it would be like, and I thought it would be a waste of time. After reading a couple of extremely positive reviews, I decided to give it a go.


I’ve decided that the best way to do this is to use bullet points.

> It started off quite cutesy. Which is my absolute favourite. I was grinning hardcore at how cute it was. BUT do not fear if cutesy is not your cup of tea, because this book is not written to be a cutesy book.

> I was going to save this one for last, because it is the greatest, but I just have to share. The main character, Kate, was very deep and thoughtful about things. When this is written a certain way – overly metaphorical and cheesy – I label it with John Green Syndrome and try not to hate it. BUT THIS. IT WAS BELIEVABLE AND GENUINE. IT WASN’T CHEESY. IT WAS DEEP THINKING IN A WAY THAT PEOPLE MIGHT ACTUALLY THINK AND IT WAS BEAUTIFUL.

> People had logical motives. Half the time, when I’m reading YA books, I question the sanity of the characters (and occasionally the author). But these seemed to make sense to me, considering the backgrounds and situations and everything. It was believable. Absolutely believable.

> There was swearing, which, if you aren’t aware, I do not like. However, it wasn’t unnecessary swearing. Some books are filled with it. This one only contained it when it was needed to show what characters were like and that kind of thing. It didn’t make me think less of the book. In fact, it made me think more of it because it was used so effectively (and sparingly).

> My English teacher would appreciate this one. It had repetition of themes and phrases and concepts and motifs and it worked really well. I’m thoroughly impressed by it.

> There was genuine character development and questioning of morals and everything like that. I don’t normally care too much about that kind of thing, but you can’t help but notice it when it is this good.

> The points that it brought up about dressing provocatively and “boys will be boys” and stuff along those lines were amazing. Most books don’t address them at all. This one was about them.


You’ve probably already guessed this, but I gave it five stars.

I just don’t have enough words to describe how strongly I recommend this book.

Tessa Ann


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