Testimony (migrated from bookblogger)

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Another gripping novel by Anita Shreve!  The author takes a not-so-unheard-of story — teenagers doing something risky and foolish and suffering tragic consequences — and tells it in a very unusual way — a composite of “testimony” given by all of the characters who are directly or indirectly affected by the incident.  The story begins with a headmaster of a private boarding school watching a videotape of a group of his students drunk and having a complicated sexual encounter.  The rest of the story is told in a variety of voices and from each of the different characters and as each of the narratives unfurl, the story is given context and depth as well as intrigue and raw emotion.  The characters are complex and very human and the reader becomes entangled in their tragedy.  By the end, it is very hard not to feel strongly about some of the characters and I know I certainly choked up at the culmination of the story.

I find Shreve to be such a versatile author.  Like Jodi Picoult, she takes on complex issues and creates a story from the perspective of different characters.  In this way, both authors are able to build arguments and sympathies for the various aspects of a controversial issue, highlighting the difficulty for resolution.  The reader has to be active and thinking to balance each perspective with the other and to decide which side rings most true.  Often, each one does.

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