Review: Wrecked by Maria Padian

wreckedWrecked
Maria Padian
Algonquin Young Readers

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In the midst of Haley’s recovery from a concussion, she learns her roommate has been raped. As Jenny wrestles with the aftermath of the trauma, she’s faced with a lot of decisions: should she report the incident to the college? Should she go to the police? She depends on Haley for support, a burden which Haley isn’t sure she’s capable of shouldering. Especially when a group of aggressive feminists rally around Jenny to support her and convince her to respond the way they believe is best.

In this midst of all this, Haley meets Richard, a handsome fellow student and math tutor. Just when it seems she may have, for the first time, found someone special, she learns that Richard lives in the same house with the boy who raped Jenny. Worse still, he recently dated the gorgeous lead feminist. (She dumped him for his chauvinistic attitudes, another fact that makes Haley nervous.)

The two struggle to navigate the new relationship in the midst of the crisis, and it’s not easy. Rumors, distrust and scandal show up at every turn. If there’s any hope of a future for them, Haley and Richard will have to find out the truth about what happened to Jenny and resolve for themselves what constitutes sexual consent.

This was a tough read. (I feel like I’m saying that a lot lately.) I liked that rather than the story being from the point-of-view of the victim and perpetrator, it’s told from the perspective of bystanders. There’s a lot of hope in the development of Haley and Richard’s relationship, and a lot of opportunity for healing.

Wrecked brings a lot of great moments offering discussion on consent. It sheds light on the process a rape victim might go through as she reports the incident and the information becomes relatively public. It shows how an entitled college kid could take advantage of a girl almost without realizing it.

He should have realized it. That’s kind of the point. But honestly, isn’t this another reason that getting drunk at a party like this is a terrible idea? Would he have realized, had he been sober, that this girl was in no position to give him her consent, and that she in fact was only barely conscious? Because that’s another conversation we need to be having.

His inebriation doesn’t excuse him anymore than it would if he’d chosen to get behind the wheel of a car. But I’m not sure we’re doing a great job educating kids about this either. As a culture, don’t we sort of treat college drinking—sometimes even teen drinking—like some kind of rite of passage? At any rate, I’d have liked to see that connection between drinking and making bad—criminal, in this case—decisions more clearly drawn in Wrecked, but even without it, the focus on the consent issue was very well-done.

More and more I’m convinced that consent is a conversation we need to have and aren’t having enough. I think Padian presented a wide array of responses to the topic in Wrecked, from the uber-politically-correct feminists to the creepazoid guy who spearheads a slander campaign against Jenny on social media. If this isn’t a conversation-starter, I don’t know what is.

find-amazonCultural Elements
Most characters appear to be white middle- or upper-class. One character is African-American.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used moderately throughout the book.

Romance/Sexual Content – TRIGGER WARNING
We learn Jenny’s account of her experience through what she says in a hearing as well as in a real-time scene describing what happens to her. A boy has sex with her while she’s just in and out of consciousness. It’s described explicitly.

Richard reflects on his relationship with Carrie, and at one point begins to tell her that he enjoyed how assertive she was with him the night before. (That’s pretty much as explicit as he gets.) Later, another girl interested in him laments her status as a virgin. She worries that the fact that he has sexual experience will mean that he’s not interested in her or won’t respect her boundaries. She doesn’t feel committed to her virginity, she’s just inexperienced thus far.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violent Content
See sexual content. The rape isn’t violent in terms of the boy doesn’t attack her, though it’s no less wrong or traumatic.

Drug Content
College students drink alcohol at parties and beforehand. Rumors state that one boy who mixed drinks for a party may have added drugs to them.

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Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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About Kasey Giard

Kasey is a mother, reader and aspiring author. When she's not reading or writing, you might find her out on the water fly fishing, pretending she can keep houseplants alive, or talking with the family rescue cat.
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3 Responses to Review: Wrecked by Maria Padian

  1. Colleen says:

    Oops, I mean Haley and Richard, not Jenny.

  2. Colleen says:

    Yeah, I don’t know how I feel about this. And really? Richard has had encounters with all these girls and Jenny is still interested in him? I might have misunderstood. And maybe him dealing with it is implied in him and Jenny working through their relationship. Also, and this is an opinion….could not the whole concept of consent (and I agree it is a topic) not be discussed without any explicity (this is probably a made up word) of the act? How helpful is that? Surely not to any reader who has lived it. My intention is not to criticize the author about her decision to do this in her book. I am just putting it out there and wondering if the topic could be treated without the details.

    • Kasey Giard says:

      Richard has a relationship with one other girl (in the story) before Haley, and she definitely struggles with some feelings of inadequacy over that.

      On the content… I definitely agree with you that reading about trauma would be very difficult for anyone who’s experienced it. Or even anyone sensitive. I’m not a huge fan of sex in YA.

      In this story, I feel like actually seeing what happened puts the reader in the position of having to decide whether Jenny was raped. With regard to the topic of consent, I think that was a deliberate choice by the author. I get why it’s there.

      But… yeah. Again, not a big fan of explicit sex in YA, and I’m sure it narrows the audience who will read the book. I do want to see stories that explore the topic of consent without explicit sexual content. I think that’s important. So I agree with you on that, too. 🙂

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