Review | What We Saw – Aaron Hartzler

book review

what we saw

What We Saw

Aaron Hartzler
336 pages


Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s 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. 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?

My Review:


I got into the phase of reading YA novels that surround rape. We live in a world where rape culture is fairly popular and we’re starting to see more and more of it in YA books. I was really excited to read this one because it was inspired by a real life event where a female student was raped by a group of male students who eventually stood in solidarity, along with other members of the community, to not only hide the crime but to blame the victim. Just on that premise alone, you knew that the book would be powerful and emotional. However, I feel like some parts of the book missed its mark. It is such a heavy topic and doing it from another person’s point of view and not the victim is a new way for me. I think that making it that way lessened the emotional value for me.

Kate was a great character and I like how Hartzler made her into this compassionate character. I liked that she was different from everyone else. She wanted to find out the truth. Okay maybe at first it wasn’t for the sake of Stacey, the victim, but because she herself couldn’t remember what exactly happened at the party because she passed out. As things start to unravel and more information, like pictures and the possible idea that her own boyfriend could have been involved, it changes Kate. This book made me so angry because of the ignorance of the town and how quick they were to blame the victim and protect their classmates. I really liked how Kate goes through the struggle of wondering why she was able to escape the fate that Stacey didn’t even though they both passed out drunk.

It was truly heartbreaking but I couldn’t feel it in a deeper level because it wasn’t told in Stacey’s point of view. I think that this book would have been even more substantial and powerful if we got to read it through Stacey’s POV. I was so very interested in her story. I wanted to know how she found out. I wanted to know if she remembered anything. I wanted to know how she was coping. I wanted to know so much of Stacey’s story and we weren’t really given that. I just really liked that it delves into such a dark topic and it’s very important that it is talked about. Sometimes however, it felt like a PSA for rape. Either way, it was a good, solid read.


About Anjie @ Love thy Shelf

Hello there -- call me Anjie! I made this book blog where I can put down all my bookish ramblings and talk to those who have the same interests!
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2 Responses to Review | What We Saw – Aaron Hartzler

  1. Diana says:

    I have been seeing this book around blogosphere for a while now. I like how well-balanced your review is pointing out what worked for you and what didn’t. I hope to read this book soon so now I know what to expect. Great review:-)

    Liked by 1 person

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