Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Shreve's newest novel, Testimony, begins with the headmaster of Avery Academy, a private secondary school in Vermont, viewing a video given to him that involves three upper classmen students from the basketball team engaging in sexual activities with a 14-year-old inebriated freshman.

Although the camera man is unknown and no one is telling, two of the faces in the video belong to J. Dot, an arrogant PG (post grad), and Robert Leicht, a senior who received early acceptance to Brown. Michael Bordwin is shocked to discover that the third boy is Silas Quinney, a mild-tempered, good student who he helped get into Avery.

At this point, Michael's primary concern is making sure that this scandal doesn't leak to the public. He steps on shaky legal ground when he forces a signed confession from two of the boys without giving them the benefit of legal or parental counsel. Little does he know that his later actions sets in motion a chain of events that ruins the lives of several and results in a death.

The story is set against the backdrop of the cold winter months of a small New England town. As the story unfolds, the reader gets a glimpse of what led up to the events of that fateful Saturday night from different voices. Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective who was somehow affected by the scandal, from the journalist who covered the story to the parents of the boys to the victim herself.

Although you may think it would be challenging to top Light on Snow or The Pilot's Wife, Shreve has done it, as this may be one of her best novels to date. Shreve has a way of pulling the reader into the emotions of the characters while we contemplate moral dilemmas. I couldn't book this book down. Highly recommended!

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