Trigger warning: RAPE!
What We Saw is probably one of the most important books people should read, given the amount of rape cases that have surfaced recently. What We Saw is essentially a fictionalized retelling of the Steubenville Rape Case. The reader follows Kate, a normal teenager student, who’s forced to make very tough decisions as a picture of a fellow student passed out over Deacon Mills’ shoulders appears. Rumors, accusations, and cover-ups are tossed around lightly and Kate must decide what kind of person she is and wants to be.
There are two quotes from Harry Potter that sum up this book perfectly:
“[…] there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”
What makes this book so important is that it focuses on everyone surrounding the incident. Throughout the book, the main character is forced to make tough decision after tough decision. These decisions usually came back to the same theme: speaking up. You may think speaking up about something so OBVIOUSLY wrong is easy, but that’s not always the case (as this book exemplifies over and over again). Kate is forced to choose between her own happiness (something that is easy) and the happiness of someone else (something that is right) and this choice directly impacted her future and her friends.
This book also brings up a few interesting points about religion. Religion is a very small theme compared to other issues such as speaking up and consent (which I will cover in a bit), but it’s still interesting and worth mentioning. Without spoiling anything, Kate has a friend who is deeply religious and is used as a counterpoint between Kate’s choices (going back to what is right and what is easy). Despite it being a very short moment, I enjoyed viewing the issue through religious lenses.
Consent. Consent is a very difficult topic for some people to grasp. What consists of consent? What does not consist of consent? Is consent verbal or nonverbal? Can it be both? All of these questions are touched upon throughout this book. Chapter 29 focuses most heavily upon this subject and is probably the best chapter in the entire book. Not only does it focus on what it means to consent, it also exposes the truth about Grease, the play. A seemingly innocent play that’s fun and upbeat actually has a very damning message. I never thought about it in that way until I read that chapter. It was an eye opening moment and caught me off guard because my own high school recreated the play. Once again, a very small moment in the book allows the reader to see the story through a different lense.
Overall, What We Saw is one of the most important books you can read right now. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book to anyone. It will make you think, it will disgust you, and it will motivate you. As Albus Dumblebore said, “there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right” and that choice will challenge you like you’ve never been challenged before.