bridget_t's review against another edition

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5.0

Everyone should read or listen to this book. 

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rbacon's review

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This book is truly phenomenal. It speaks to the fears of every woman and tells her she is not defined by them. It says our names and who we are is important. It also calls out systemic failure in systems we are taught to trust, saying excuses are not enough. Truth is truth, even when noone cam see it. I hope this book was healing for Chanel and she is able to continue to be a force to be reckoned with for future generations to remember.

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marla_a's review against another edition

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5.0


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meghanm404's review against another edition

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4.5


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nothingforpomegranted's review against another edition

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4.5

This is a powerful, brave book, an unbelievable reflection by Chanel Miller on the story of her sexual assault and the months and years that followed. Not yet internationally known as Emily Doe, Chanel Miller joined her younger sister and a friend at a frat party at Stanford University in January 2015. Drunk and happy, Chanel danced on a chair and went outside to pee. Hours later, she woke up in a hospital, confused in a room full of medical professionals who wouldn't let her go to the bathroom because they would need a urine sample. Slowly, Chanel realized that she might have been the victim of sexual assault, found behind a dumpster by two Swedish men on bicycles who stopped and chased a man (whose name I'm not interested in mentioning in this review) from on top of her when it was clear to them that she was not responding. 

Harrowing and rife with detail, Chanel Miller's account of her own story, covering the years between the party, the trial, the sentencing, and the end of her assailant's prison term, is heartbreaking and beautifully told. Her narration of the audiobook added an unbelievable depth to the story, and the moments where her voice betrayed the emotional impact of her own words were incredibly significant. 

I was disappointed towards the end of the book when Miller suddenly brought tangentially relevant incidents of societal injustice that were contemporaneous with her own case and legal battle. I was so deeply invested in her story, and this section pulled me out of it somewhat. Though her analysis of Trump's disturbing statements was powerful, as she picked apart his words piece by piece to connect them to her own experience and trauma, the pivot to police violence felt disconnected and incomplete. I also got a bit disoriented with the timeline at certain points, but only briefly and was quickly drawn back into the story. 

After all, Chanel's story is an engrossing one. Her strength and resilience was evident on every page (or the audio equivalent), and I am filled with utter admiration for the way she pursued art and comedy, the way she sought to comfort and protect her little sister, and the way she stood up for herself in the trial, breaking down in tears more than once as she was forced to experience the trauma of this assault over and over again, but refusing to succumb to the defense attorney's leading questions or attempts to make her out as a slutty, silly, unfaithful party girl who must have wanted to be fingered behind a dumpster by a freshman swimmer while her boyfriend was in Philadelphia at school. 

Chanel's fury and frustration was resonant throughout her memoir, and I felt it right along with her, but I was most struck by the overwhelming sense of hope that infused her writing. As an aspirational children's book author, Miller seems to know how to hit just the right note, balancing painful, difficult topics and emotions with a way forward. She acknowledges the statistics of sexual assault, the mountain that victims and survivors have to survey, navigate, and ascend before charges can even be brought to court, and the low likelihood of a guilty verdict after all that. She affirms the utter disbelief that overtook the world after her assailant--found guilty by unanimous verdict on three felony charges of assault--was sentenced to only six months in prison, likely to be released after three months on good behavior. Yet, she encourages her readers (and women everywhere) to remember that they are not alone, that they have an opportunity to "dust [themselves] off and go on," as she has started to do, and to keep looking forward. 

Graphic, painful, and gripping, this is a book that many will struggle to read. I think it's worth it. Even a few paragraphs at a time (or a few paragraphs altogether), Chanel Miller has a lot to say, and both anonymously and named, she should be heard. 

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