Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Snapshot Book Review: Testimony

TestimonyTestimony by Anita Shreve
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the concept for the structure of this book. I really enjoy stories told from multiple angles, and Shreve goes one step further with this book by telling the story not only from multiple characters' perspectives, but also by writing those perspectives from multiple points of view (e.g. first person, third person, and even second person). Even more interestingly, each character is telling their portion of the story with respect to a third party interviewer: someone they are considering speaking to, are planning to speak to, or are currently speaking to.

I sorely wanted to give this book a 5-star review, but Shreve overcomplicated the book just a bit too much by adding too many time shifts between narrators. As the reader, not only did I need to reorient myself as to who was telling the next bit of the story and how they were narrating it, but I also had to determine where I was within the chronology of the story. Some portions were second or third person accounts of what a character was currently or was planning to tell the interviewer, while some portions were first person narratives of what a character was actually telling the interviewer, and this of course influenced what time frame the character was speaking about or experiencing.

The story itself, however, is compelling from all angles. Shreve has an excellent sense of every age from which she tells the tale, and she creates empathy for ever participant, from the headmaster to the boys accused of the crime. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in literature about boarding school communities, family interactions, young adult introspection, and characters studies.

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