BOOK REVIEW: Testimony – by Anita Shreve


Title: Testimony
Author: Anita Shreve
Genre: Contemporary, Drama, Fiction
First published: October 21st 2008
Finished reading: July 23rd 2014
Pages: 352
Rating 2,5

“I could go to jail, I could stand the humiliation, I could even let my father hit me if he wanted to, but I couldn’t bear to look into your eyes and see the tape running, I just couldn’t.”


Testimony is divided into many chapters in which perspective changes with every chapter. That way, Anita Shreve introduces us to many characters and their testimonies of the events around the scandal. The amount of characters is sometimes confusing and the writing not that great, and it is clear is that some are only used to ‘fill’ the story. The main characters are Silas and his girlfriend Noelle, Rob, J. Dot and the headmaster Mike. Or at least those characters have some dept… On a side note, the way the fourteen year old girl who changed her name into Sienna is described and acts is actually quite irritating, and I couldn’t feel sorry for her at all. Which is strange for a supposedly victim of sexual assault. Or maybe things weren’t as she told everybody that happened, and she was lying to keep out of trouble… Either way, this novel just didn’t do it for me.


A time bomb is about to go off in a small community. A tape is found where four members of the Avery Academy are involved in a sex scandal. The tape incriminates three 18 and 19 year old teenagers (two of them respected and one of them even a local) and shows they were together with a fourteen year old girl… The headmaster tries to maintain the disaster by keeping the news within the boarding school’s walls, but the news leaks out as the girl’s parents go to the police. Soon the boys, headmaster and the whole school are under attack, and the small town bulges under the weight of hundreds of reporters trying to get their exclusive. 


The general story and message of Testimony is interesting. It shows us that a few hours of drunken actions can turn many lifes upside down. That a person has the power to change and destroy the future of others and that actions sometimes have terrible consequences. In short you could say the idea is there and it could have been a great novel. It’s just that the execution of that idea is done poorly. Some of the characters are actually quite flat and the writing lacked creativity and was at times even annoying. This book could have been so much more… If only written in a different way. Only recommended if you like boarding school scandals, a little bit of drama and don’t mind a somewhat shaky writing style and characters.

10 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Testimony – by Anita Shreve

  1. Pingback: Listing The Reading | It's All About Books

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    • The story itself, although not that original, has potential. It’s a shame that Shreve wasn’t able to bring the execution to the same level…


  4. Hmmm. I’ve read a few books by this author in the past, but not this one. It sounds like an interesting premise, but I’ve often had issues with her writing, and it sounds like some of that is the case here too.


    • Hmm, it sounds like her writing is not that great in general then. I’m not sure whether to read more of her work in the future; maybe only when someone lends the book to me like with this one.


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