Friday, September 18, 2015

Review: What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

What We SawTitle: What We Saw 
Author:  Aaron Hartzler
Publisher: Harper Teen 
Publishing Date: September 22 2015
Pages: 336
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction /Drama/Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC 
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 knew when I first saw this book, I would need to read it and I would love/hate it. And I was right. I received an ARC copy and finally found it next on my list and tore through it. I couldn't put it down. I did love it and I did hate it. I loved it because it was real and raw and good. I  hated it because it was honest, heartbreaking. This book is one of those reads that is a must read, especially for every teen boy and girl out there. It was amazing, well written, and straight to the heart honest. 
There was a party, there was drinking. Kate was there but left early because she was drunk. Stacy was drunk too and the day after the party Stacy goes to the cops. There are four boys, important boys, boys who are good at school, sports, who are well liked. They are charged with rape and sexual assault. No one believes this happened, everyone feels sorry for the boys and doesn't think about Stacy. Except for Kate, she wants to get to the bottom of things, she wants the truth, and she wants those responsible to have consequences. She sets out for the truth and she finds it. 

Okay so in reading the reviews I found that there was a similar case that this book was based off. I am glad to know this but wished I hadn't It made things so much worse for me. I think. I don't really know if this book could make the feels I felt worse. I am just really saddened that things like this really happen and have happened and that is why every girl and every boy should read this book. 

Now to the review of the book. I was amazed by this book. I like realistic fiction enough but it's not my favorite. I am not a teenage girl and so some realistic fiction is just too much for me. I grew up and realized life isn't all that bad. But this story... doesn't matter how old you are. It happens and its heartbreaking. This story was very well written. I liked that I was reading what felt like a news story of events and someones diary. It was written as a regular story but the feel I got was of a news story and a diary. 

It was not easy to be in Kate's head, but it was a journey. The thoughts, the way she worked through it, was good. She was determined to find the truth and she was determined not to let every other person's thoughts and words decided who was right and who was wrong. She worked through it, emotionally and mentally until she could deal with it. She worked through it til she know what was right and what to do. The she found the truth and worked through it some more until she made her thoughts and facts action. She stood up for what was right even though it destroyed her. She was a very strong character and I really enjoyed being in her mind. 

There was romance but I really don't want to say too much about the romance. It was sweet, a little fast for the book, but not for the overall story. There were some pretty strong friendship relationships and a touch of parental relationship added in. This book really touched on every relationship a teen has in her/his life. 

The story itself is just heartbreaking. It's shameful that things like this happen and it sucks that the girl is the one that had to work so hard to prove she was right. This is why girls do not report things. Boys will boys is not an excuse and the though that people actually thought this sickens me. I don't want to get on too much of a rant because this would be the length of 10 reviews, but this is a serious issue and I am so happy that there are authors who can shed some light on the subject through stories. It was very well done. A very fast read, yes again I say heartbreaking, it brought tears to my eyes but it was enjoyable. 

Really is a must read but get the tissues out and maybe something to punch now and then.

Aaron Hartzler
Aaron Hartzler is the author of Rapture Practice (Little, Brown), a memoir about getting kicked out of his Christian high school two weeks before graduation. The New York Times called Rapture Practice "effervescent and moving, evocative and tender." It was also named one of Kirkus Reviews and Amazon's Best Books of 2013, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. His next book, a novel called What We Saw, will be published by HarperTeen on September 22, 2015. It's the story of a girl named Kate whose friend is assaulted by student athletes at a party, and how Kate navigates small town politics to find out what really happened. Aaron lives by the beach in Santa Monica with his two dogs, Charlie and Brahms. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. This book definitely made me wan to punch something! I sounded way too much like many news stories we have been seeing, lately.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  2. I really liked this book, but there was just something about it that felt not completely real. Like things happened too perfectly or something. I thought the writing was fab though!!


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