I read Anita Shreve’s The Pilot’s Wife (Little, Brown and Company, 2001) 12 years ago. I enjoyed it enough and it put Anita Shreve on my radar. But in the years to come, none of the reviews of her new books enticed me enough to read them. Recently, I read a review of her book Testimony (Abacus, 2009) and decided to give it a try. I really didn’t like it. So if it happens to be on your ‘To Read’ list on Goodreads, my suggestion is, don’t bother.
Testimony is presented from the viewpoints of all the characters in the book; someone different narrates each chapter. This is a common technique that I’ve read before many times but in this book, it felt contrived and worse, lazy. The story became disjointed because of this technique and in the end, I didn’t connect with any of the characters.
Testimony is about four high school students (three boys and one underage girl) who are filmed having sex in a dorm room. Once the tape is leaked, scandal follows. The lives of the students, teachers and parents are turned upside down. But the one thing that kept nagging at me, not sitting right with me: The constant focus on how the boys’ promising careers as basketball stars were in jeopardy because of their poor judgment, having sex with an underage girl. It was startlingly reminiscent of the firestorm that was ignited following CNN’s recent coverage of the Steubenville rape case. When the guilty verdict was handed down, CNN reporter Poppy Harlow lamented the fate of the two boys, lamented their damaged futures as football stars with barely a mention of the victim, a young 16-year-old girl who’d been raped. Shameful and disgusting, CNN. And I couldn’t help but feel the same nonchalance permeating the pages of Anita Shreve’s book, rendering it entirely distasteful to me. The bottom line: This isn’t your next beach read. Download something else. Like The Pilot’s Wife if you haven’t read it.
My rating: 1 out of 5