What We Saw
Author: Aaron Hartzler
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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.
First Sentence: This video doesn’t show you everything.
I received a copy of the book from BEA in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
I’ve been saying this a lot lately about books I’ve been reading, but I wasn’t interested in What We Saw when I first saw it. Hey, who can blame me? The cover doesn’t attract me its plain doorknob and a boring font and I haven’t heard much, if anything, about What We Saw. However, when I picked it up at BEA along with other HarperCollins books since HarperCollins was dropping multiple books at the same time and actually read the summary, I found myself growing intrigued even though I can already predict what would happen at the end of the book.
“Well, I just think it’s awful what that Stallard girl is doing to them. Dragging their good names through the mud. If you ask me, they oughta arrest her mother and put that poor girl in a good Christian home.” (ARC 109)
What We Saw is a book that shows how realistic and ugly life can be. There were certain moments in the book where I couldn’t believe what people had actually said about the whole thing, but I also know, at the same time, that there are a lot of people out there that will say and think exactly the same thing as the characters in the book did.
I love how powerful some messages in What We Saw was, especially the first one, aka the first sentence of the book: “This video doesn’t show you everything.” A video doesn’t show you everything that’s happening behind the scenes. It doesn’t show you what and how the people are feeling in the video and the people behind the scenes. I love how Aaron Hartzler brings back this concept near the end of the book – it really rung with me.
And what is the truth?
Stacey’s allegation? Did something happen to her that she didn’t agree to? (ARC 234)
My one and only problem with What We Saw is that there were way too many details in the book for me, most details about the small town Kate lives in. I didn’t need to know a lot about the specifics of a small town – knowing a little is enough for me. I won’t mind a short paragraph or two about a specific topic, but nearly a page about one topic about the town just frustrated me. Add more of that throughout the book and I just grew plain bored and brushed past those parts. Those parts really dragged the book down.
Overall, What We Saw is a powerful book with multiple powerful messages that everyone should be reading despite its fault. I can promise you guys this: What We Saw will be staying in your mind for awhile to come.