I would first like to say how refreshing it is to have a male author step forward and address rape culture the way that Aarom Hartzler has done with What We Saw. Rape culture is so ingrained in our culture that we often do not realize that we perpetuate it through our own actions, thoughts, opinions. In this book Aaron Hartzler takes on a journey into the life of the narrator, high school junior, Kate Weston. We meet Kate as she is waking up hung over from the party she attended the night before. We understand the consequences of the party for her. She’s hung over, has a headache, is worried about her dad’s truck. However, the next day at school we learn the consequences of the party for her classmate, Stacy. Stacy is alleging that four of the top basketball players raped her while she was passed out at the party. At this point we journey into the land of rape culture.
If this book does not make you angry, there is something wrong with you. You should be completely outraged by this book, by the story it tells. You should be appalled that this book is based on an actual case that many of us have heard of (Steubenville, Ohio rape case).
I love to see the growth of Kate’s character. She is hesitant at first to outright say- “maybe this DID happen.” But she grows and by the end she has found her voice. She has found the courage to stand up to her classmates, her boyfriend, her best friends, and her town and bring forth information that will help Stacy’s case. Other characters disappointed me. Maybe, like Kate, I expected better of her boyfriend, Ben, and her friends.
In the end, I recommend this book wholeheartedly. I believe every single high school freshman should read it and learn from it. Challenge what they have been brought up to believe. Challenge rape culture in their towns, their schools. Change begins small, but with each of us we can make change happen.