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Testimony – Book Review

Mike got up off the floor and sat on the sofa while he loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt, as if increasing the blog flow to the brain might help solve his problem. And it was then that the word containment entered his mind. And with that word, moral, ethical, and political choices were made, though Mike would realize the implications of these only later, when it occurred to him that he might have chosen at that moment another word, such as revelation, say, or help. -From Testimony, page 12-

Anita Shreve’s newest novel Testimony (due for release by Little, Brown and Company on October 21st) is a riveting story. The book is set in Vermont at a small, private school and told from multiple view points. Mike Bordwin, the headmaster of Avery Academy, is shocked when he views a tape which shows a 14 year old girl at the school engaging in a drunken orgy with three male students – all of whom are 18 years old or older. He recognizes the young men as stars of the school basketball team and is faced with a dilemma. Should he keep the “problem” contained to the school disciplinary committee, or is this a criminal act that should involve law enforcement?

As the novel unfolds, the reader discovers each character’s unique perspective of the event and the consequences of their behaviors. There is no one who is left unscathed as each character “tells” their side of the story, including the parents and children directly involved and those seemingly minor characters such as the guy who sells alcohol to minors and the cafeteria lady at the school.

Taut, gripping and impossible to put down, Shreve’s novel explores the devastating aftermath of this one event. Nothing is as it seems and each character’s decisions will have an impact impossible to predict. Thematically the novel explores the tenuous relationships between parent and child, and looks at how expectations can be shattered in the course of a night. This is a book which I predict will make the book club circuit and become a favorite to discuss.

I recommend this provocative novel to those readers who are not offended by graphic sexual scenes and difficult subject matter.


  1. October 18, 2008    

    Wow…good job on the book review. I’m impressed!

  2. October 18, 2008    

    Thanks, softdrink – I have to say, that was probably the hardest book review I’ve written in a long time!!

  3. October 18, 2008    

    I’m impressed that you can write after reading for 10 hours! I need to write some reviews, but there is no way I could do that right now!

  4. October 18, 2008    

    This book sounds great. I’ll have to look for it when it comes out.

    Congrats on doing so well! I’ve finished a book, read a magazine, and started a second book so far. Keep it up!

  5. October 18, 2008    

    Laura: I impressed myself *laughs* Actually it was not easy to do because I feel brain-dead. I doubt I’ll try another one!

    Alexis: Thanks for stopping by and for the encouragement!

  6. October 18, 2008    

    I thought this was a great book, too!

  7. Kim Kim
    October 18, 2008    

    Great and well written review! I can’t wait to read this one. I haven’t read any Shreve for a while.
    *smiles and cheers*

  8. October 18, 2008    

    Kathy: I’ll have to check out your review 🙂

    Kim: Thank you! This is a good one.

  9. October 18, 2008    

    I’m amazed that you can read and review a book during Read a Thon! Great review!

  10. October 18, 2008    

    Great review Wendy! I have this ARC as well and am looking forward to it!

    Looks like your having a great 24 hour marathon, I wish I had your endurance! You go girl!

  11. October 19, 2008    

    Thanks, Tracy 🙂

    You’ll like this one, Teddy! I’m hanging in there, but not for much longer … thanks for the cheers!

  12. October 20, 2008    

    I really liked this book as well. I feel like it produces so much discussion!

  13. October 20, 2008    

    S. Krsihna: I agree – I think we’ll see this one getting picked for the reading groups quite a bit.

  14. October 22, 2008    

    I’m glad you liked this! I thought it was one of Shreve’s best books. Just to let your readers know, I am giving away three copies of this right now!

  15. October 26, 2008    

    This sounds like a great read. I really like Shreve and have several in my stacks waiting to be read. Wonderful review, Wendy.

  16. October 26, 2008    

    Great review. I had been avoiding reading anything about it until I got my hands on it and reviewed it myself, which I did today…but I completely agree with you.

  17. October 26, 2008    

    Tara: I think it is one of her best as well (although I really loved The Pilot’s Wife).

    Les: Thanks!

    Jill: Oh, I’ll have to drop in and check out your review. Glad you liked it!

  18. October 28, 2008    

    I can’t wait to receive my copy in the mail. I love Anita Shreve. From the reviews I’ve seen so far, sounds like the book generates a lot of questions.

  19. October 29, 2008    

    Anna: I think this is one of Shreve’s best…and it is a great book for a book club.

  20. November 1, 2008    

    Wendy — thanks for the great book review of one of my fav authors. Good work!

  21. November 1, 2008    

    Thanks, Jan 🙂

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