Release Date: May 2009 (Trade Paperback)
Author Site: http://www.anitashreve.com/
My Rating: 4/5
Synopsis [from hatchettebookgroup.com]:
At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices--those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal--that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.
**Anita talks about TESTIMONY**
I've only read one other novel by Anita Shreve and that was ALL HE EVER WANTED. I really liked her writing and I thought I would probably enjoy her other books. I tend to backtrack with authors and read their earlier published books first. TESTIMONY was the October choice for an online book discussion/club held at Barney's Book Blog (definitely check her out!) so I didn't mind breaking my habit and reading this one.
TESTIMONY had an interesting premise even if it was somewhat predictable. A sex scandal (caught on tape nonetheless!) + a prestigious private school always = good drama. I liked the way Anita told the story through each of the characters. Each chapter is a different character's point of view. And it is a "testimony" of sorts - retelling the events that happened at Avery Academy. I also got a strong sense of who each of the characters were through their "testimonies". You meet the 14-year-old victim, the boys invovled in the scandal, the headmaster, the parents of the the boys invovled, and other assorted people that have some input in the situation. It's easy to feel certain ways about each of the characters but I was surprised at who I actually came to care about and who I didn't really sympathize with at all. Let's just say that people make mistakes and sometimes the victim may not be the only one who was victimized...
The story was compelling and brought up many different issues. The reader got a chance to determine who they felt was guilty in the situation and it's not an easy choice. On one hand you have three boys, all of legal age, who wrongfully take advantage of a younger girl who was clearly intoxicated. It's illegal to have sexual relations with someone who is underage. In Vermont, where Avery Academy is located, it's called sexual assault. Most other places though I think it's statutory rape. So they are obviously to blame right? But then you have the 14-year-old girl who appears a very willing participant but then later claims rape. Is it possible she seduced the three boys? You really have to read the story to form your own opinion. I feel that no matter how much a girl may be "asking for it" - rape is not okay! Ever! However I don't think this situation was rape.
On another note, Anita brings up an important concept that I think many of us forget to think about, especially in the heat of the moment: Every action and decision we make has the potential to change the future irrevocably. This scandal affects and destroys so many people's lives and I was compelled to find out each character's point of view and how the scandal affected them.
I will definitely be continuing on with Anita Shreve's books. While the premise was a bit predictable, I think Anita is a great storyteller and I highly recommend this one!