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A Book A Week: Testimony by Anita Shreve

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Why did Testimony have to be so sad? It is really heartbreaking. Well, it turns out that in Anita Shreve's world, if you commit adultery, very bad things happen to you.

Testimony is not the only book where this is the case. The Pilot's Wife and The Weight of Water are two others where death, or the death of one's child, is deemed suitable punishment.

This book is also about teenage stupidity, a subject that is a little too familiar to me right now. After a late night of reading I found myself reminding my 18-year-old "don't go with any underage girls." He looked at me like I had lost my mind. "Mom, I'm a camp counselor. They would fire me." Yes, and you might die too, if Anita Shreve was in charge.

If you can believe it though, I actually liked this book. Shreve builds tension slowly and with masterful control, as I've mentioned in other posts. In this story, a video of a sexual encounter among students at a posh boarding school is posted on the Internet.

Who are the students? How did they end up in this situation? How does the headmaster handle it? The parents? The police? Shreve uses multiple points of view to reveal the various characters and what they were thinking. By including the voices of even very small players (the boy from town who provided the liquor) she adds layers of nuance to her story.

Becky Holmes blogs about books at A Book A Week.

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