|(Source: Kelsey Darling)|
The book is told in alternating perspectives of Haley and Richard as they work through a campus investigation of two other students: Jenny and Jordan. Haley and Jenny are roommates; Richard and Jordan live in the same housing unit; Haley and Richard are just starting a relationship. Everything becomes complicated when Jenny accuses Jordan of raping her at a party; then Jenny selects Haley to be her representative and Jordan chooses Richard.
The only two people who know what happened are Jenny and Richard, but Jenny was intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness, and Richard doesn't agree that what transpired between them was non-consensual.
We also get little tidbits of information of what really happened at the beginning of the chapters from the points of view from Jenny, Richard, and other people at the party that help the reader put everything together, so that in the end, the reader also knows exactly what happens.
Highs and Lows
- The book feels very real. There are statements that are made that I have heard out of people's mouths in real life.
"Known about them hooking up or about her charging him?"...
"Oh, is that what he told you?" Haley says. "That it was a hookup? That's rich. Trust me: if you knew my roommate, you'd know that isn't even remotely possible..."
"So what was she doing at a Conundrum party?" Richard responds. "Everyone knows you go there to throw down." (p. 143)
"For your information, nobody 'ditched' anybody. She wandered off. The rest of us managed to stay together; what's up with her? So if you want to know what sucks, I think it sucks that she didn't come to me before reporting everyone and dragging us into some investigation." (p. 156)
"I want this all to go away," Jenny says to no one in particular. "I want him to leave me alone. I want people to not stare at me as if I've got some scarlet V for victim embroidered on my shirt." She looks at Haley. "I want my friends to believe me and not just feel sorry for me." (p. 262)
- I really didn't like the character Carrie. I see why she is important, but I feel like her and Richard's history plays too much of a role when it's really not that important. And I just don't like her personality. She was way too pushy and bossy; like, she wanted to help Jenny, but only as long as Jenny did what Carrie told her to do.
- I also feel that both Carrie and Haley judged Richard to harshly for comments he made. I mean, one, he's a guy; guys aren't usually the talk about emotions type; that doesn't mean that they agree or disagree, but you can usually take what they say for face value. Two, he doesn't exactly have the same vocabulary. He doesn't always choose the best word for the situation, but that's where you need to look at his physical gesture. It's harder with people you don't know, but when you know a person, you should be able to put their verbal notions and physical notions together to know what they mean.
- Richard also makes a good point towards the end of the book regarding a regretful one-night stand and rape. He knows that what transpired between Jenny and Jordan was rape; but sadly, there are people out there who have called rape just because they regret it, or they don't want to get in trouble with parents or their partner, or a million other reasons. And the most upsetting part of that is that a few bad apples have ruined the bunch and caused people to question the validity of the victims report.
"You seemed to think that rape is another term for morning-after regret," she says.
"I don't," he says firms. "I think they are two very different things. But both are real. And both have endless...permutations. One's a crime. One's a whoops. The problem is, sometimes we disagree on how to tell them apart. And I know damn well there are people out there who would burn me at the stake for saying that, but that's what I think."
She reaches for her glass with her free hand. Takes a sip before responding. "I think it's you vocab choices that piss people off. For example: 'whoops'?"
"I'll spell it our," he says. "Two people at a party. Both have a lot to drink. They start grinding on the dance floor. They end up spending the night together. They realize in the morning that had they been sober they never, ever, would have hooked up. Whoops." (pp. 310-311)
- Most importantly, the book emphasizes consent. The only form of consent is yes. No means no. Saying nothing means no. Pushing a person away means no. "Stop" means no. Consent can be taken back at any time. If they are intoxicated or under the influence, they are not in the right state of mind to consent so that means no. Something might be okay the first time, the second time, and so on, but the tenth time they say no; consent has been taken back, and that is completely okay. And this goes for everything, not just sex: hugs, kisses, touching, anything that could make a person feel they have been violated physically and/or mentally.
I really enjoyed the book. There is really good character development and plot. And most importantly, it feels extremely accurate. In situations like this, it's not always black and white. I will always take the side of the victim first, because in my opinion, it takes a horrible person to lie about rape; however, a person is also innocent until proven guilty. There is also a lot that is unfair. Because Jenny decided to go to the school over the police, when Jordan withdrew, the case was dropped because the school cannot investigate someone who isn't a student. And at this point, it's been way too long for Jenny to go to the cops because physical evidence disappears after 72 hours. But she didn't want to go to the cops because she wanted to keep everything private, which is the exact opposite of what happened. There is no way to know what would have happened had she gone to the cops first; that could have turned into the same huge mess.
In the end, Jenny, Haley, and Gale all make very good points about how everything ends up. Jenny feels that Jordan just got off, while she has to live with this the rest of her life; it'll always be there in the back of her mind. Haley feels that Jenny should be happier; Jordan is no longer on campus and cannot stalk her or come after her anymore. Gale is more the voice of reason; Jordan can still go to another college and do the same thing since no official chargers were filed, which leaves him to do it to another girl, but Jenny should feel safer knowing he's gone and that a lot of attention has been brought to the subject of consent.
It saddens me that rape culture is so prevalent in our society; that we have to teach our daughters to cover up instead of telling our sons not to look; that shoulders and knees are "sexual;" that just because a person has had sex makes them a whore and slut. It's not right. When a person says they've been raped, our first questions should be who did it, where did it happen, how are you feeling. Instead, we ask what they were wearing, had they been drinking, who they were with. It's easy to blame the victim, especially with how certain ideas are drilled into our heads from a young age. It's extremely important that we change the dialogue, not just with youths, but with everyone.
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, New Adult