- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: HarperTeen (September 22, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062338749
- ISBN-13: 978-0062338747
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What We Saw Hardcover – September 22, 2015
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“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.” (Deb Caletti, National Book Award Finalist for HONEY, BABY, SWEETHEART)
“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.” (Maya Van Wagenen, New York Times Bestselling Author of Popular)
“A powerful tale of betrayal and a vital primer on rape culture.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“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.” (School Library Journal)
“Debut novelist Hartzler pulls no punches in his depiction of rape culture. A stirring, important read. (Booklist)
“An outstanding debut novel with so much heart, it is destined for the bestseller lists.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
“A thought-provoking look at victim blaming.” (Publishers Weekly)
PRAISE FOR RAPTURE PRACTICE: “...a hilarious first of its kind story that will surely inspire more.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
From the Back Cover
The party last Saturday night is a bit of a blur.
Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone's house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking Kate's keys and getting her home early, the feeling that maybe Ben is 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, and begins to ask questions.
What really happened at the party after she left?
Who was still there?
What did they see?
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
Inspired by true events (ones so shocking and disgusting I can remember where I was when I first heard the news), Hartzler takes a courageous risk and looks deeply into our society's rape culture.
Taking place in small town Iowa where high school basketball reigns and the players are treated like gods, a fellow student accuses four players of sexually assaulting her when she was drunk at a party. Multiple questions arise- is being unable to say no the same as consenting (NO); does a victim "ask" for it or "have it coming" simply for the way they dress or the way they act (NO); what is society's obligation to the accused and more importantly to the victim?
In an interesting take, our MC is neither the victim nor the accused; rather, she is a bystander and fellow student who is plagued with unease and questions about what really happened and how her community is responding to it. Kate's inner turmoil over the situation has her seeking for answers while also feeling hesitant about learning the truth. The decisions Kate is faced with and the way she responds is admirable, brave, and courageous.
For a book about the rape of a girl, Stacey, the victim herself is actually rarely present in the story. Her name and character are degraded, and she is continuously dehumanized, but we never really see her or hear her. I can't help but think this is intentional on the author's part. So many times in rape cases (and many other crimes), the victim is discarded or pushed aside. It becomes all about the suspect, his (or her) life, how he is effected, how his life will change. Or it becomes about the community and the effect it has on them (like losing your star basketball players). Somewhere along the way the victim, the whole reason why we should care, is forgotten or disbarred, just as what happens here to Stacey.
What We Saw is a harrowing novel that sadly hits too close to reality. But hopefully it serves as a reminder that this happens- it is real, it is tragic, and it requires accountability and action be taken.
What We Saw is written in first person from Kate Weston's point of view. A junior with a promising future ahead of her, she, along with several of her classmates attend a party at one of their classmates' home when his parents are out of town. After downing a few too many shots of tequila, her longtime friend Ben Cody makes sure she gets home safely and then he returns to the party to retrieve his car. The next day, social media (esp. Twitter) blows up with tweets, comments and pictures from the night before. One of the pictures going around is one taken of Stacey Stallard and she is drunk, passed out and slung over the shoulder of one of the school's popular basketball players. By Monday morning, whispers about Stacey begin and before the week is over, four popular basketball players will be charged with sexual assault. What really happened that night might have remained a mystery, a case of "he said, she said", if not for Kate Weston. Kate does not like how everyone is trashing Stacey's reputation and she does not like the fact that no one seems interested in knowing what really happened to Stacey. Kate wants to know the truth and she is willing to go against her parents and her friends to uncover it.
Sadly, What We Saw is a fictionalized account of an actual case that happened in 2012. Aaron Hartzler's portrayal of this case is remarkably true to life and it is sometimes incredibly hard to read, let alone fathom. The storyline challenges society's kneejerk reaction to place the blame on the victim and it also challenges many biased beliefs that a woman is "asking" to be raped because of flirtatious behavior, the way she dresses or drinking a little too much. Various discussions offer a thoughtful commentary on what constitutes consent and more importantly, these conversations make it clear that the inability to say no is not an implied yes. A well written, thought-provoking young novel that I highly recommend to readers of all ages.
When Stacey Stallard is absent on Monday, Kate wonders because she spent some time with her at the party. Then the rumors started, something happened that involved some of the members of the basketball team - the State-bound basketball team. Ben is a star on the team and is depending on getting noticed by college scouts for his way out of this small, economically-depressed Iowa town.
When four of the players are arrested and charged with sexual assault of a minor and dissemination of child pornography, the town become polarized. The principal and basketball coach stand up for these upstanding young men from good families. Some of the students think that they way Stacey dressed and acted made the rape her fault. Kate wanted to know the truth but she was afraid to ask the boy she was coming to love, and who loved her, what he knew about that night.
The kids, the school and the town all chose sides. No one who was at the party would come forward to tell what they saw. Then the news of a video surfaced. Despite a number of people trying to make sure that all copies were deleted, Kate saw the video and decided that she had to tell what she saw no matter what or who it would cost her.
This is a very timely story that will give thoughtful readers lots to ponder. It is a story that needs to be told and Hartzler did an excellent job of showing the ways various people reacted.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Every once in a while, you read a book that really changes the game. For me, "What We Saw" by Aaron Hartzler is that book.Read more
Quick & Dirty: While I admire Hurtzler and his work, I wasn’t a huge fan of What We Saw.Read more
All the talk of not knowing what happened lead me to believe that this was a mystery book. It was not.Read more
What We Saw begins with a hangover. It's the day after a house party, and all Kate remembers are bits and pieces of the night before.Read more