ARC Book Review: Wrecked by Maria Padian
ashley | I knew before even picking up Wrecked by Maria Padian that it was going to give me a lot of feels. And not the good kind of feels. Campus rape and rape in general has been at the forefront of a lot of high profile cases lately, cases that disgust and anger and frustrate me to no end. It was very timely that I received this ARC, the reeling emotions have been let loose.
There were a number of things this book did really well. Instead of being told from the point of view of the victim, it was told from the shifting perspectives of Haley and Richard, accuser Jenny’s roomate and accused Jordan’s housemate/friend. Neither were around the night that this assault happened, and yet both of them end up being pulled deeply into the case. We basically get to put ourselves in their shoes, learning about the case as they do, having conversations with the accuser/accused but never fully knowing exactly what happened or what is right or what should happen. This was a great approach, instead of focusing on the details of the situation itself, focusing on the roles of the bystanders and how they come into play or can have an impact on the situation, or how confusing and fragile the situation is when you really don’t know what happened. It was a great example of how something like this affects more than just the two who are at the middle of the situation and it proves how dangerous gossip and hearsay can be.
Another thing it did really well was draw painful attention to the way campuses are poorly fit to deal with situations like this and to how selfish and self-preserved people become when put in the hot seat. Witness stories were slightly twerked to avoid getting themselves in trouble, no one wanted to be the one to sell out someone else, everyone was happy to blab and gossip and torment Jenny, but no one wanted to cross Jordan, even if they had information that would help the situation. Most painful of all, because Jenny was fed drinks, because her night was hazy, her story wasn’t good enough. There were patchy holes and not enough evidence and even though she woke up with someone on top of and inside her, that wasn’t enough to prove that it happened.
This book was full of very important conversations. Each character kind of has their moment to share important thoughts from different perspectives. There were also a lot of conversations about the line between being too drunk and making a mistake you regret and being coerced into something you don’t consent to. There was no specific answer, no clear definition, but this is the first time I’ve really seen that addressed to bluntly and I liked that it was pointed out. Most of all, justice in the end hung on one person coming forward to provide vital information that changed everything. Someone who didn’t ask to be involved but was fed a lot of information from other people along the way made the choice to come forward and change the entire direction of a situation. It needs to be made clear how important that is.
The one downfall I found with this, though, was that Haley and Richard were also trying to live their lives, trying to get to know each other better, making the focus move away from the situation at hand. This is realistic, of course, and it makes it very clear that this is a very real, very serious situation we have in this day and age, it’s not some fantasy book or a fictional story, these people are real people, they have dreams, they have lives of their own and their own issues outside of it. But there was this huge tangent that just seemed kind of weird for me. It was an assembly about consent, which is super appropriate for the book and I thought would have been an important addition, but it ended up just being a platform to Haley and Richard to explore what they meant to each other on stage in front of the whole college which just seemed so out of place for me. Maybe I was missing some kind of subtext but it just took me far away from the important parts of this book, interrupted the flow of things and left me a little confused.
I also wished the character of Carrie was more likeable. She had a great opportunity to be the advocate, to be the overbearing voice about how awful this entire process is, but she came off more angry and unlikeable and honestly, a bit of a feminist stereotype that I’m sure she herself would hate.
I will always praise books that bring sexual assault into the spotlight. It’s something that happens far too often and while everyone wants to take it seriously, it is still something surrounded by gray area with unfortunate leniency depending on who is involved. Padian did a great job speaking about this subject in a new and informative light and I hope this opens some more eyes and allows more people to be heard and to feel supported.
october 4, 2016