183. Testimony by Anita Shreve

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Pages: 305
Ages: 18+
Finished: Oct. 16, 2009
First Published: Oct. 21, 2008
Genre: realistic fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

It was a small cassette, not much bigger than the palm of his hand, and when Mike thought about the terrible license and risk exhibited on the tape, as well as its resultant destructive power, it was as though the two-by-three plastic package had been radioactive.

Reason for Reading: I really wanted to read this book right from when it first came out but it just kept getting pushed to the bottom of the pile. The book was picked for my October Random Reading Challenge. I received a review copy from Hachette Book Group.

Summary: Avery is a small New England town and Avery Academy, the private high school, is the only prestigious thing about it. That is until the headmaster receives a sex tape of several students in a drunken orgy which someone has filmed. While that may not exactly be shocking these days, especially if it had come from the public school, what is shocking is those involved. One girl is only fourteen. The boys are top A students and athletes with promising futures. One boy is a day student, on a scholarship, one of "them" (a town boy), from an upstanding farm family. What follows is a retelling of the events leading up to and after that dreadful event told through the voices of those involved and many others.

Comments: This was a wonderful book! I really enjoyed the read. Each chapter the voice changes from character to character, going from major players to minor characters such as teachers on staff to room mates. This is a brilliant way to keep what is actually a fairly simple plot going into many different directions. There are secrets that unfold that make the simple incident more than it seems initially. Also viewing the incident from each major character's point of view turns what at first appears to be an easy-to-place-blame incident into one much more profound showing one the other side, multiple other sides and the moral issues involved when one is so quick to make rash judgement on others. A very intriguing story!

The characters are all developed well, at least the ones the author meant to. I became attached to a couple of the characters but knew they were doomed from the beginning. Perhaps that is why I became attached to them? There are a couple of major reveals in the book. One I had figured out from the very beginning so was rather let down that I had actually uncovered it as I think it spoilt the effect for me. If I could have been surprised/shocked over the event my rating would have been higher. All in all, though, I really enjoyed the book. Now she has a new book out, A Change in Altitude, (Sept. 09) which looks very good to me as well. I think I may have found another favourite author.

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  1. I probably wouldn't have picked that up on my own, but your review makes it sound REALLY good. Thanks!

  2. Court - The only thing I should mention is that the first chapter is sexually graphic. It was a little hard going for me getting through that chapter but well worth it. Once the tape is described the author never feels the need to keep rehashing those details.

  3. I will probably read this eventually. Anita Shreve has had some really good books over the years, but it has been a long time since I read her regularly.

  4. So I'm wondering about your 3.5/5 rating? I've liked most Shreve books that I've read (maybe 4?) but I don't actively seek out her works. I really liked Sea Glass and The Weight of Water.

  5. Oh...and sometimes I feel like I try NOT think about books while I'm reading them so that I don't figure things out early and then have the big moment revealed by my overthinking. Does that make sense?

  6. Trish - My rating (3.5) is based on my having guessed a pretty big reveal right from the start which took away what would have otherwise been quite a shock/surprise.

    I couldn't rate it less because I really enjoyed it but I couldn't rate it more as I feel I missed out on the emotional impact the reveal would otherwise have had on me. This secret was just too obvious (to me).

  7. PS - yes Trish it does makes sense but I just can't help it. I'm the type of person who automatically calls out who did it on CSI as soon as all the suspects have been shown (about 10 mins into the show). If it's obvious, I can't help but seeing it. It just pops into my head.

  8. This book wasn't one of my favorites by her but it was ok. I just finished A Change in Altitude-it too was just ok for me. Her favorite of mine is still The Pilot's Wife.

  9. Doomed from the beginning is a great way of describing it, now that I think about it. Though this wasn't my favorite of Shreve's novels, I did enjoy it. Glad you did, too.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  10. I agree that the first chapter was a bit graphic, but in the long run I rated it higher than you.


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