Customer Review

134 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best from Shreve in Years!!!, October 26, 2008
This review is from: Testimony (Hardcover)
Anita Shreve never plays it safe with her books and her latest, Testimony, is no exception.

Avery Academy is a small private school in Vermont. Everyone who attends has been carefully screened and selected to attend. From the rich young freshmen to the athletic seniors tapped for college play; no one attends Avery Academy by chance.

But for Avery Academy, all is not as it seems from outside its gates. Parties, which include alcohol and drugs, still occur and kids still get in trouble. This sets the scene for a horrible sex scandal from which no one will come out unscathed, not the students, not the parents, not the headmaster of the school; and not even the citizens of the town of Avery who don't even usually pay too much attention to what goes on behind the hallowed gates up on the hill just out of town. Parents find that even though they pay for the best education for their children, send them to the best schools available, they still can't protect them. Adults find that passionate desires can have far-reaching effects that can change lives forever.

Told from multiple points of view (I counted 20) in less talented hands the narration could get confusing. But with Shreve, it did not. Perhaps that was because with over a dozen of these narrators we only hear from them once or twice.

However the story essentially belongs to three people: Mike, the headmaster of the school who we get to know the best, and Silas and Noelle, the two star-crossed lovers; Silas the basketball star, the local boy made good, son of average farmers from the town of Avery and Noelle, the talented musician destined for Julliard. As the story of the events of that one evening of sex and alcohol unfolds it is becomes clear that Silas stands to lose it all. But what sets in place such behavior uncharacteristic of the normally mild-mannered youth is at the crux of the rest of the story.

A graphic beginning describes the events of that tragic evening; and this is so graphic that it could tend to turn off some readers, readers who may be unfamiliar with Shreve's work. But those who have come to know and trust Shreve as an author will be compelled to keep reading and be certainly glad they did as the events unfold, a bit at a time, through the voices of not only Mike, Silas, and Noelle, but parents, classmates, and the other students involved in the scandal. We also hear from a reporter who eventually wins the Pulitzer for his reporting of the events.

However as the story develops, readers see that the scandal is only the tip of the iceberg for a greater tragedy that will even more deeply affect those involved.

This is Shreve at her best. She tells a compelling story so eloquently that is one of those deemed "unputdownable" -- be sure to start this one early in the day so you will have plenty of time to finish as once you begin it, you will not be able to stop turning the pages.
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