Review: What We Saw

wwsAuthor: Aaron Hartzler
Release Date: 22nd September 2015



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.


“It isn’t that she’s disappeared. It’s just that no one is focused on her. We’re too busy looking at the stars.”

This book is horrifying. 

The writing is thought-provoking and succeeds at pulling apart the issues at hand to create a discussion that helps to destroy the deeply ingrained arguments that people still try to use to justify crimes like these.

“Boys will be boys’ is what people say to excuse guys when they do something awful.”

“Not being able to say no isn’t the same as saying yes.”

The parallels of both Kate and Stacey being extremely drunk on the same night, at the same  party, really highlighted how slut shaming has damaged young people’s attitudes towards rape and consent. The reactions from other characters made me feel like Kate was one of the only sane people in her town – (which is rich considering she decided it would be a good idea to break into Stacey’s home whilst she was home alone) – although the reactions of the majority of students felt worryingly believable and accurate to what you might expect.

But really, Kate’s character development was great throughout the book and I’m glad she didn’t let other people bully her into backing down.

I really don’t have the words to describe exactly why you should read this book, but you should add it to your TBR shelf right now if it’s not there already.



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