Wrecked – Maria Padian
I don’t really know where to start with this one. On the one hand, I think books with this subject matter are hugely important and I want as many people as possible to read books like this and discuss them and hopefully learn from them, but I just didn’t connect with this the way I wanted to.
Everyone has heard a different version of what happened that night at MacCallum College. Haley was already in bed when her roommate, Jenny, arrived home shell-shocked from the wild Conundrum House party. Richard heard his housemate Jordan brag about the cute freshman he hooked up with. When Jenny formally accuses Jordan of rape, Haley and Richard find themselves pushed onto opposite sides of the school’s investigation. But conflicting interests fueling conflicting versions of the story may make bringing the truth to light nearly impossible–especially when reputations, relationships, and whole futures are riding on the verdict.
Before we start, lets get some trigger warnings out the way. This is a book that deals with sexual assault, so if that is something that is triggering for you, maybe give it a miss. But like I said, I think its great that books with difficult subject matters like this one are being published, so that more people can feel enlightened about the subject and maybe feel able to come forward with their own experiences. This book isn’t supposed to be enjoyed, you can’t really enjoy a book about assault unless you’re a sadist I suppose, but I can’t say as though I really engaged with this.
Let’s get the good stuff out the way first.
This book is very good at playing on your inbuilt prejudices. Jenny comes home from a party upset, she says she has been raped. Jordan comes home from the same party excited about the girl he’s hooked up with. Which is the lie? Which is the truth? Which person do you believe? This element of the story was interesting and seeing how the other characters reacted to the news made me think a lot about how society views the role of the victim and how easy it is to get away with this sort of crime. Jordan, despite being accused of something as serious as rape, is given the option to transfer to another school with literally no other consequences. Whether or not he did it, that is all kinds of horrific and yet, is something very common in universities across the world.
Whatever other problems I had with the book, it does at least make you think.
Now the not so good stuff.
So, I had a few problems with this book. My first problem was the characters. All of them were a bit 2D and flat for me. Interestingly, the narrative is told through the room mates of the accused and the accuser. Unfortunately, both Haley and Richard were horrible people. Haley describes herself as being friendly and thoughtful, though her entire narration made her come across as less social than I am and I’m REALLY anti social. She seemed much more concerned about her burgeoning relationship with Richard than she did Jenny, who, regardless of whether you think she’s telling the whole truth, is someone who has been traumatised by the event. Richard, if possible, was even worse. He was a ‘nice’ guy. You know the ones I mean. The ones that lament about why girls won’t date them because they’re so ‘nice’ when he goes around making sexist comments and generally being a bit of a douche. He’s that guy. Aint nobody got time for that guy. Its a shame that so much of the book was taken up by Haley and Richard trying to not get their relationship dragged into what was happening with Jenny and Jordan, who lets be honest, had the more interesting and important story than anyone else did.
My second problem was the investigation elements of the story. Like, I’m lucky enough to not have experienced this kind of thing, but I’m pretty sure that Jordan’s defence was exactly the sort of thing that a prosecution could pull all sorts of holes in.
Overall, I guess this book just fell kind of flat for me and I was disappointed not to have a more challenging read.
This is the first book of this subject I’ve read and its definitely made me want to branch out and read others, just to see how its dealt with in other scenarios. If you have any suggestions throw them my way and if you are interested in this kind of read, check out the Banging Book Club if you haven’t already.