Book description~ At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora’s box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices–those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal–that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.
Cause. Effect. Guilty until proven innocent? Innocent until proven guilty? These ideas along with so many others were central in Anita Shreve’s fast-paced and intense novel, inspired by the Duke Lacrosse scandal of 2006. In Testimony, the reader was hearing first hand accounts from the 15 different people, each involved in some way, in the high school sex scandal caught on tape, after an Avery Academy boarding school dance. Testimony proved how a single action caused a life to veer in a direction it was never meant to go. Can watching a video tape clarify motives, intentions, and who provoked whom? As the reader, we hear the testimonies of parents, administrators, law officers, students and teachers, trying to get to the bottom of the “truth”. Shreve carefully and wonderfully examined the impulses that swayed the lives of (seemingly innocent) students, their needs, desires, and fears. Were the students driven in malice? Or just testing the waters of right and wrong ending in demise? What I loved most about Testimony, although the first 15 minutes were quite graphic, was how thoroughly it investigated and explored the idea of “the truth” and “perception”. It examined ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions, using all the various points of view, age differences, and relation to the scandal itself, to explore the minds and actions of the youth. The realism in action, consequence, and dialogue was unreal. I’ve never seen an author, even Jodi Picoult create 15 real and plausible characters that WORKed in one novel alone.
Silas and Noel’s stories were particularly emotional for me. I wanted to smack Sienna- she was “all about the PGs”. Rob was my favorite. I felt sad for Irwin more than anyone- can you imagine the anguish of holding his secret in everyday? Unimaginable.
Not everyone embraces audiobooks. I’ve really enjoyed picking particular books to listen to on my iPod instead of read. Time is precious for me, as I have such little down time and need to read 35 more books in 2010! I love using my morning commute and cleaning/cooking time to listen to these books using such great new technology. This book translated SO well to audiobook. Shreve is artful with her character development, their voices, and inflection. This particular audiobook was a full cast. Each of the 15 characters had a different voice-over artist representing them. I felt like I was sitting across the interview table from each of the folks involved. I felt like I was sitting in the administrator’s office as the horrible news was delivered to the parents of the students involved. I felt like I was reading Rob’s letter to the “researcher”.
Anita Shreve is one of my newest favorite authors and I can’t wait to read more of her work. I’m curious to hear what my book club babes think of this thought-provoking and controversial book, as half of us will have read it, and the other half will have listened. I don’t think I’d feel as invested in the story and characters if I hadn’t listened to the audiobook.
Thanks to my sweet apple turnover w/ powdered sugar for picking this great book! Hope you liked it as much as I did.
17 down, 35 to go!
In progress, The Opposite of Me