What is this about?: About Hayley and Richard, two students at university who become involved in a rape case, for very different reasons. Through them, the author explores two different points of view about rape, illustrating things aren’t always clear cut.
What else is this about?: Hayley and Richard start to navigate a relationship between themselves, with the case throwing up some fundamental differences in the way they think.
Should you read: Yes. And then tell everyone to read it too.
Blurb: Everyone has heard a different version of what happened that night at MacCallum College. Haley was already in bed when her roommate, Jenny, arrived home shell-shocked from the wild Conundrum House party. Richard heard his housemate Jordan brag about the cute freshman he hooked up with. When Jenny formally accuses Jordan of rape, Haley and Richard find themselves pushed onto opposite sides of the school’s investigation. But conflicting interests fueling conflicting versions of the story may make bringing the truth to light nearly impossible–especially when reputations, relationships, and whole futures are riding on the verdict.
As I write this review, there’s an ad running on Australian TV about one of our news programs doing an investigation into campus rape here in some of our most prominent universities. So this book is timely in the US and here, and many other campuses.
On to the story: Jenny, Hayley’s roommate is raped and takes the brave step of reporting it and setting in motion the inadequate campus machinery to deal with her report. As part of the investigation, she asks Hayley to be her advisor, her friend and confidant in all the official and unofficial parts of the investigation. Hayley is supposed to listen, to advise and just to let Jenny rant when she needs to.
But here’s the thing, that’s easier said than done, and that’s what this explores — Jenny is falling apart, torn apart by what the investigation entails and trying to figure out what’s the right thing to do — for herself and everyone else. Hayley is supposed to be her island in all this, but it’s too much for one person to handle, especially someone thrown into the deep end of this situation. So we see Hayley trying to shoulder this responsibility and hating it at the same time, but how can she let Jenny do this on her own?
It made me think of how inadequate support systems, especially, can be on campuses. Even friends, no matter how well meaning, can’t always give the help a rape victim needs.
Then there’s Richard. Over in another part of the campus, he finds himself talked into being the advisor for Jordan, the guy Jenny accuses of rape. This is to ensure he isn’t asked complicated questions, and maybe hurt Jordan’s case.
Richard is that guy — a good guy, but a guy who has no idea of what rape culture means. Of what consent means. He’s the type of guy you probably know in your real life right now, who’s casually misogynist and doesn’t even realise it.
But, he learns and that’s an important difference. When Hayley questions him, when the situation starts to get out of control and he realises just who the guys are that he surrounds himself with, that’s the difference.
Hayley herself is caught up more in the emotional part of this, and Richard provides some respite before she finds out he knows the rapist. So, she’s seeing this good guy, spouting all these things she knows is wrong and is tempted to cut her losses and lump Richard away into the category of lost cause, when she realises a good guy, who wants to learn and to understand how to be better. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to smack Richard for his tone-deaf reactions to some things, but that’s how people react to a situation like this when they haven’t learned anything else.
While they are the focus of this story, not once is the effect on Jenny far from the narrative. To focus on Jenny would be too much for a book dedicated to showing what rape culture is, and how people react to it and within it. Casting Hayley and Ricard as the advisors, pulls them into the narrative, into two very different, but no less important parts of it. The author has crafted two wonderfully complicated characters, trying to navigate an even more tense and complicated situation and succeeds in breaking your heart because this is our reality right now.
The author successfully navigates different POVs in a heart-rending story with care and passion. She doesn’t pull any punches in her story, which means you’re going to be thinking about Wrecked long after you’ve finished.