Sunday, January 12, 2020

Nonfiction Review: Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Title: Know My Name
Author: Chanel Miller
Year Published: 2015


Genre: Adult nonfiction (memoir)
Pages: 368
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map)USA (CA & PA)
FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford's campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral--viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time.

Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways--there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.

Know My Name will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing. It also introduces readers to an extraordinary writer, one whose words have already changed our world. Entwining pain, resilience, and humor, this memoir will stand as a modern classic.

Review: I remember quite vividly when this story broke the news and that I was so angry at the judge in the case for looking out for the darling white boy. I also felt for the woman whose name we didn't know. What must she have felt when the verdict and sentence was announced? Had her reputation been dragged through the mud during the trial?

My local weekly newspaper, the Santa Barbara Independent, is doing a book club this year and I was interested to join, especially when I saw that this is the January book. We are "meeting" with each other on Goodreads.

And wow. This book is good on so many levels. Miller is a good writer who evokes emotions like crazy. I was angry, sad, frustrated, sympathetic, and more as I read. The UCSB connection (I live in SB, my parents both worked there. and attended UCSB for my Masters and teaching credential) is interesting as she was a senior when there was a mass shooting in 2014. 

Miller speaks for herself and others who have experienced sexual assault as she describes the event itself, but more importantly, the trial and the years following the assault and how it affected her, her family, her friends, and her boyfriend. The effects are ever-lasting and intense.


Challenges for which this counts: 
For the PopSugar challenge, this book was recommended by an online book club.


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