True Story by Kate Reed Petty Review

True Story by Kate Reed Petty Review

It’s the middle of the night. I should be sleeping. I have to be up early to get my son to school. 

 

I can’t get my mind off this book I’ve just finished. 

 

True Story by Kate Reed Petty is definitely not a book for the faint of heart. The book opens with the story of the sexual assault of “the private school girl” by a star lacrosse player. It’s sickening how well and realistically she captures the full cast of characters’ response to the situation. 

 

The lacrosse coach encourages the boys to stick together. The college counselor discourages her from writing about it for her application essay. Her fellow classmates make fun of her and her one defender. Her parents are full of worry and rage that nothing is going to be done. 

 

As it turns out, nothing is done. She drops the charges against the boy and everyone moves on… or so it appears…

 

The author does a wonderful job using scripts and emails throughout the book to tell the story. She follows the main characters into adulthood and illustrates how much this one day, years in the past, still has deep impacts on all of them. 

 

One suffers from alcoholism. Another builds a career making space for women to speak through her documentaries. A successful company is built defending the reputations of powerful people.

 

Alice, the victim of that fateful night, is a ghostwriter that struggles to find her own voice. She finds herself in less than ideal situations throughout the book. I’m so impressed by how well the author is able to capture her complicated emotions as she navigates her life. 

 

The writing in the book is what makes it believable. Her stream of consciousness writing style when Nick is in the cabin. The long emails Alice writes when she knows no one is going to see them. I can’t imagine the type of creativity, empathy and intelligence one must possess to make such different characters so authentic.

 

This was an excellent book. It is also a total gut check. I don’t remember that last time I read a novel that has left me so deep in thought about our society in general. How are we teaching our kids to talk about women? Why do we still talk about sex like it’s a conquest? It’s these types of questions, the seemingly unsolvable problems, that keep me up at night. 

 

So, long story short, I highly recommend this book. I’m gonna have a really long day tomorrow, but it was worth it.

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