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.

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21 comments

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

    • Wendy on October 18, 2008 at 15:48
      Author

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

    • Laura on October 18, 2008 at 16:01

    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!

    • Alexis on October 18, 2008 at 16:24

    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!

    • Wendy on October 18, 2008 at 17:03
      Author

    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!

    • Kathy on October 18, 2008 at 18:56

    I thought this was a great book, too!

    • Kim on October 18, 2008 at 20:03

    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*
    Kim

    • Wendy on October 18, 2008 at 21:02
      Author

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

    Kim: Thank you! This is a good one.

    • Tracy on October 18, 2008 at 22:24

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

    • Teddy on October 18, 2008 at 23:58

    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!

    • Wendy on October 19, 2008 at 00:08
      Author

    Thanks, Tracy 🙂

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

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

    • Wendy on October 20, 2008 at 06:57
      Author

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

    • Tara on October 22, 2008 at 14:06

    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!

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

    • jill on October 26, 2008 at 10:41

    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.

    • Wendy on October 26, 2008 at 23:12
      Author

    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!

    • Anna on October 28, 2008 at 10:26

    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.

    • Wendy on October 29, 2008 at 08:05
      Author

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

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

    • Wendy on November 1, 2008 at 19:55
      Author

    Thanks, Jan 🙂

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