I've been a huge fan of Anita Shreve since reading The Pilot's Wife almost 20 years ago. Since then, I've stayed on top of reading all of Shreve's novels over the years whenever I get hold of one. Testimony is one of two books I hadn't read by Shreve previous to now.
In the first chapter of Testimony, a headmaster of a prestigious New England boarding school gets hold of a sex tape featuring three seniors and a freshman girl. As the sex tape starts hitting the email accounts of students and staff members throughout the school, the boys go to trial over the incident and their lives basically become ruined. The boys' families also end up suffering for their mistake.
Each chapter in Testimony is told from a different character's take on the incident, and explores how each individual's life is affected by the sex tape.
Classified as an emotional drama with the "impact of a thriller" (according to the book's synopsis), Testimony reveals how different types of people react to such an event. I really expected more of a revelation, or better twist at the end of this novel, but I was disappointed when the novel ended abruptly without any hints of a promising future for any of the characters.
It angered me how each teen boys' life was ruined after just one night of partying and sexual adventure with a willing participant -- regardless of whether she was a freshman or not. Personally, I don't always agree that willing participants under the age of 18 should be considered victims of statutory rape or sex crimes. I think that such incidents should always be examined individually on a case-by-case basis. While the boys' crime may have been considered illegal on paper, I felt that the school staff and authorities should have taken this case more lightly given all that was at stake for the boys, and given the young girl was a willing participant who had initiated the entire incident.
Though I was sorely disappointed with the outcome of Testimony, I commend Shreve for tackling such a great topic. I did appreciate how this novel was fast-paced, and offered short chapters that were so different from one another thanks to Shreve's talent of speaking in a number of different voices for a number of different characters. My experience reading this novel was enjoyable, but I probably won't think about it again down the road.
Check out my other reviews for novels by Anita Shreve!
Body Surfing by Anita Shreve
A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve