Review: What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

Monday, August 24, 2015


Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: ARC from @miss_print
Pages: 336

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

Earlier this year, I read All The Rage by Courtney Summers. If you liked that book, you will probably like this book. It is about the same subject matter, but from a different point of view. It always feels so wrong to me to say that I enjoyed books like this, but it just really made me angry! Not at the book, but at what happens in it! This is a subject that I actually feel very strongly about.

One weekend, one of the star basketball players in a small town called Coral Sands in Iowa holds a party at his house while his parents are away. There was lots of drinking and the main character, Kate Weston, gets driven home fairly early by her soon-to-be boyfriend, Ben Cody. The next morning, she can't remember much about the party, but there are lots of pictures and statuses on social media about it, but she doesn't look too closely at them. 

A few days later, the cops come to their school and arrest four varsity basketball players a week before the championship. They are accused of sexual assault and child pornography of a girl named Stacey Stallard. The town and the school seem to rally behind the basketball players. They don't believe that they did anything wrong and that the girl probably just made some poor decisions and regretted it the next day.

The principal and the basketball coach try to cover things up for their precious basketball players. Kate's friends have varying opinions on the events. Her friend Rachel is really religious and believes that Stacey got what was coming to her because she didn't follow 'the rules'. Her friend Christy just thinks that boys will be boys. Her friend Lindsey feels the same way that she does. That this is totally wrong. Kate can't stop thinking about it. Stacey used to be her friend and doesn't deserve all the awful names and the derision that is coming with this. Supposedly there is a video going around of what happened. Kate finds it and what she sees just makes her sick.

Kate has everything going for her. She has an attractive varsity basketball player boyfriend who is on the fast track to a good college. She's smart. She's a great soccer player. She is a good person. She can't believe that Stacey is just lying. She wants to understand what happened to the girl that used to be her friend. She digs for the truth and does what she can to help.

Really, the only other main character is Ben. He seems to have everything going for him too, but he's kind of a coward.

I hate the way the people dealt with this. Everyone thinks it's so unfair that these four boys are being slandered and that their lives and basketball careers could be ruined because this girl dared to speak out that she was assaulted. They probably could have gotten away with it if they weren't so stupid as to take pictures and video and put it all over the internet. What an awful way for that poor girl to figure out what happened to her. People say that she was asking for it because she had been drinking too much and wearing a short skirt. Makes me sick.

If you liked All The Rage or like books that make you feel things, read this one when it comes out! Highly recommend!


  1. I get what you mean that's it's weird to say you enjoy a book with this kind subject matter. I only added this to my TBR last week, but it sounds good and looks like it tackles rape-culture well. I still have to read All the Rage, so I might read that one first! Great review!

    1. All the Rage was really good as well! I think that they both tackle rape-culture pretty well. I hope that you get to get around to reading these soon!

  2. Ahhh. I have never heard of this book! This is not one for me at all. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Cyra :D

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. I hadn't heard of it either, but someone was giving away some of their ARCs for review and I thought that this one sounded interesting so I snatched it up!


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