Thursday, September 16, 2010

I've been reading a bit

Testimony: A NovelTestimony: A Novel by Anita Shreve

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Testimony. This book, about a sex scandal in a private school in Vermont, is an unexpected offering by an author who often surprises. Written as a look back at an event that changed the lives of many involved, the chapters are made up mostly of interviews and reactions to questions asked later during an investigation, I think by a sociologist or student.

Although some readers have found the style of narrative hard to follow and disjointed, reading the chapters as if they were the testimony of witnesses in a court case makes understanding the story a little easier. I had no trouble following the tale, although I found that the style made it difficult to sympathize with many of the characters involved and made me look at the testimony with less involvement than the usual style of novel. Which may have been the intent of authorAnita Shreve. In later chapters things seem to come together a bit better and it becomes easier to identify with and understand the motivations of at least some of the characters.

The theme of the book is less about sexual misconduct and more about teenage alcoholism and the tragic consequences of choice. This is not an easy read, although the chapters flow swiftly and I finished it in a couple of evenings. The first chapter shocks, deliberately, and realizing how the characters are affected by the scandal is difficult to take. Young lives are shattered by a deed done under the influence and families, friends, teachers and students all struggle with the lasting effects.

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