TESTIMONY by Anita Shreve

 Testimony_lAt the beach last week, I read Testimony, by Anita Shreve.  It's a typical Shreve best-seller – compelling and well-written. Testimony is about a sex scandal at a prep school in New England involving three male students, an underage girl, and a video. The book unfolds in chapters that rotate among several perspective- the students, the headmaster, several of the parents, even a reporter who covered the story. Some chapters are told in first person, some in second, and some in third, which makes the book more interesting.

So. It's a good read – perfect for the beach. But ultimately, it's kind of an empty read. It's a page-turner, but ultimately not a very memorable book. There are some questions raised about parenthood – who is to blame when kids exercise bad judgment? what happens when a parent's bad judgment has a negative impact on a child? I certainly fell sorry for these characters and the tragic role the scandal played in their lives. And the girl at the center of it all was definitely infuriating and unsympathetic – though was she a victim, or a manipulator?

I did like the way the book was told from many perspectives, with facts revealed slowly and masterfully over time by different voices, combining to make a complete story.

I am late to the Testimony party – there are a lot of good blog reviews out there of this book. Heather at Book Addiction felt the same way as I did about Testimony:

I will say that I have read several of Anita Shreve’s books, and Testimonyis by far the most fast-paced and exciting of the ones I’ve read.  While I was reading the book, I was completely caught up in the story, quickly turning pages because I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next.  But now that it’s been a week or so since I’ve finished the book, I’m feeling kind of 'meh' about it.  None of the characters are overly memorable and even the story itself… it was good.  Nothing amazing.  I don’t know, I guess I was hoping for more."

Jill from Breaking the Spine said, "Shreve does a masterful job at drawing out the story, releasing details piece by piece, building intrigue as she outlines what led up to that night and its painful aftermath."

Serena from Savvy Verse and Wit said, "As always, Shreve has outdone herself in this novel, weaving a series of disjointed testimonies into a coherent and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, responsibility, and adolescence. I've often wondered if Shreve has ever tried her hand at poetry because the language she creates on the page paints a vivid image, and those images often conjure deeper meanings and emotions for the reader."

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4 Comments

  • June 26, 2009 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    I enjoyed this book even though I found parts of it disturbing. It did make me think about how one simple action can affect so many people.

  • June 26, 2009 - 11:34 am | Permalink

    This is one I enjoyed – I think I liked the page-turning quality of it. It’s certainly different that the other Shreve books I’ve read. But I do understand your reservations.

  • June 26, 2009 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure everyone would agree that this is a beach read, perhaps because of the content, but it is fast-paced. I really enjoyed this novel.

  • christa
    June 30, 2009 - 8:19 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you and Heather – a page turner while reading it, but didn’t really stick afterwards. Here’s my short review:
    http://christabutlerphotography.wordpress.com/2009/06/07/fiction-8-in-2009-testimony-by-anita-shreve/

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