Harper. Mar. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780062887085. $27.99. F
Set at a prestigious private college in the South pervaded by a culture of rape and sexual abuse, this new work from Adkins (When You Read This) opens with an incident that has myriad ripple effects, changing the lives of four key characters forever. New on campus, Annie Stoddard attends a party, participates in a drinking game, and is assaulted by a young man while she is unconscious. The rest of the narrative is rife with underlying questions, including a close examination of the concept of consent. Can it be implied? If so, whose interpretation counts? If the woman decides to put herself in harm’s way, where does the responsibility lie? And then there is the double-edged sword of reporting the incident, which could lead to disastrous results, thus making a bad situation worse. Meanwhile, Annie’s abuser comes from a background of great wealth and privilege, which means that justice will not be served, because the desired outcomes can be paid for.
VERDICT  Adkins takes on a complex subject just as it intersects with real events in our society. This thoughtful and engrossing novel will likely encourage genuine, heartfelt dialog among readers. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/19.]
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