20922826What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: starstarstarstarstar (4.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

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?

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. – Goodreads


This book is a hard one to review, not because it’s a horrible book (it’s not), not because of the subject matter, or the writing or anything like that but because it was so well done. Hartzler used his first fiction book to tackle a tough subject, what happens if you’re at a party and someone is raped. Is staying silent the best thing? Should you question the status quo?

In What We Saw, Kate Weston is a normal teenage girl in a small down. She is trying to figure her life out in Iowa when everything changes. Not only does she get a boyfriend, someone she has known all of her life, but also a girl she knows accuses four boys from the basketball team of rape. Basketball in this town is God. It’s actually bigger than God, and these boys are looked upon as those who can get away with anything. They are literally untouchable.

With an unflinching writing style, Hartzler tackles not only high school, but also family, friendships, and what people do when they disappoint you. Kate was fine with her life. She was content with everything.

For a little while, I was just a girl watching her boyfriend playing backetball –excited and cheering -and wishing things could always be just that simple. —eARC 91%

But the more that people talk about the night of John Doone’s party the more Kate can’t just sit still. Even though her father request that she essentially stays complaisant she can’t. Kate actually becomes a vocal feminist for how wrong this is, particularly when it comes out that there was a video of the night, not just photos. And wait, where was Ben that night? Because he went back to the party right?

I found it fascinating that Hartlzer didn’t take the side of the girl who was raped. What We Saw is unnerving view of life on the outside, being one who wasn’t effected, but actually was effected more than they expected. Hartzler doesn’t take sides, what he does is create this world that the reader feels part of and feels pulled into. I started this book and finished it within 24 hours. Heck, even now I want to know more about what happened. I found it to be that good. This book won’t be leaving me for quite sometime.