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What We Saw
Cover of What We Saw
What We Saw
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Critically acclaimed memoirist Aaron Hartzler, author of Rapture Practice, takes an unflinching look at what happens to a small town when some of its residents commit a terrible crime. This honest,...
Critically acclaimed memoirist Aaron Hartzler, author of Rapture Practice, takes an unflinching look at what happens to a small town when some of its residents commit a terrible crime. This honest,...
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  • Critically acclaimed memoirist Aaron Hartzler, author of Rapture Practice, takes an unflinching look at what happens to a small town when some of its residents commit a terrible crime. This honest, authentic debut novel—inspired by the events in the Steubenville rape case—will resonate with readers who've ever walked that razor-thin line between guilt and innocence that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time.

    The party at John Doone's last Saturday night is a bit of a blur. Kate Weston can piece together most of the details: Stacey Stallard handing her shots, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early. . . . 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 questions: Who witnessed what happened to Stacey? And what responsibility do they have to speak up about what they saw?

    National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti calls What We Saw "a smart, sensitive, and gripping story about the courage it takes to do what's right."

About the Author-

  • Aaron Hartzler is the author of the critically acclaimed YA memoir Rapture Practice. This is his first work of fiction.

Reviews-

  • DOGO Books antcas - I want to read this book.
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 31, 2015
    Hartzler (Rapture Practice) moves from memoir to fiction with a novel that strongly echoes the Steubenville High School rape case in 2012. Teens at an Iowa high school are left reeling after a photo surfaces online showing a classmate drunk and topless during a party; soon, four students are arrested for sexually assaulting her. If characterizations sometimes take a backseat to the headline-grabbing plot, Hartzler captures the small-town vibe of a place so insulated that residents know the jersey numbers of the varsity basketball team but not the names of their legislators. Narrator Kate Weston questions the knee-jerk reactions of many of her peers, who slut-shame the girl and side with the accused athletes, while negotiating a new romance with Ben, a longtime childhood friend and member of the school's basketball team. Hartzler offers a thought-provoking look at victim blaming, the pressures of a win-at-all-costs athletic program, and the tendencies of schools and teams to circle the wagons and protect their own while hammering at the obligation of bystanders to speak the truth. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from June 15, 2015
    In a fictional analog of the 2012 Steubenville, Ohio, rape case, allegations of gang-rape at a high school party expose a small town's ugly truths. Star basketballer John Doone's party inspires soccer player Kate and her childhood friend Ben to admit their long-held feelings for each other. The party also-if cheerleader Stacey Stallard is to be believed-saw several prominent members of the basketball team rape Stacey while she was incapacitated. The arrests of Doone and three other boys in the cafeteria spark both a media frenzy and a schoolwide rally to defend the alleged rapists. Ben stands up against the worst of his teammates' behavior at school, but as Kate's romance with him deepens, so does her need to know the truth. Kate, who listens more than she talks, makes an ideal narrator, observing her friends' dismissals of Stacey's story with increasing uncertainty. Even minor characters here are carefully conceived, and every bit of dialogue and social media activity is chillingly note-perfect. Classroom scenes and conversations offer frameworks for understanding what has happened and why, but the touch is so light and the narrative voice so strong that even a two-page passage breaking down the sexism in Grease! avoids seeming didactic. A powerful tale of betrayal and a vital primer on rape culture. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    August 1, 2015

    Gr 9 Up-Kate got wasted. Stacey got wasted. Kate left early. Stacey was raped, or so she claims. Kate can't remember much about the party, save from the growing flirtations with her childhood friend Ben. It's hard to focus on anything but their budding romance even when the whole school is sharing pictures and gossiping about Stacey's "behavior" at the party. But Kate is forced to come out of her love bubble once four of her classmates are charged with sexual assault and dissemination of child pornography. The whole town seems to comes to the boys defense-but Kate can't help but begin to push aside the town's shared preconceived notions and look closer. Devastatingly reminiscent of the 2012 Stuebenville High School rape case, Hartzler's first YA novel explores how a small, tight-knit community reacts when student athletes are accused of rape. The author has delivered an important, powerful, and engrossing read that gives readers a lot to consider. The book managed to resist a preachy feel while still asking tough questions about consent, the media, and how society puts victims on trial. Kate serves as a relatable and realistic reader surrogate as her emotions, questions, and conclusions progress throughout the story. VERDICT A gripping narrative that begs to be discussed.-Emily Moore, Camden County Library System, NJ

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Deb Caletti, National Book Award Finalist for HONEY, BABY, SWEETHEART "What We Saw is a smart, sensitive, and gripping story about the courage it takes to do what's right. If you're looking for your next favorite YA author, look no further. Aaron Hartzler's got what it takes."
  • Maya Van Wagenen, New York Times Bestselling Author of Popular "This book is real. Like the protagonist, it's vulnerable, honest, and incredibly brave. Kate's story will be a lifeline for kids observing impossible situations and wondering where the right and wrong is in all of it. I could not put it down."
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "A powerful tale of betrayal and a vital primer on rape culture."
  • School Library Journal "The author has delivered an important, powerful, and engrossing read that gives readers a lot to consider... A gripping narrative that begs to be discussed."
  • Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) "An outstanding debut novel with so much heart, it is destined for the bestseller lists."
  • Publishers Weekly "A thought-provoking look at victim blaming."
  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) PRAISE FOR RAPTURE PRACTICE: "...a hilarious first of its kind story that will surely inspire more."

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