In her new novel, Wrecked, Maria Padian draws attention to the controversial issue of sexual assault on college campuses.

This issue is seen time and time again throughout various news stories- increasingly so over the last few years. The stories often come with little to no definite factual evidence, leading to non-decisions.

Although fictional, Wrecked does an excellent job of placing the reader in the middle of one of these cases, offering varying perspectives to show why such issues are often controversial and hard to resolve.

It tells the story of a girl named Jenny who files a sexual assault charge against a perpetrator at a party at which she was intoxicated.

What sets this novel apart, however, is the way the story is told. The novel alternates between two points of view: Haley and Richard. Haley is Jenny’s friend and the other, Richard, is the accuser’s friend. This approach gives the story an outsider’s perspective from both sides of the case, leading the reader to feel sympathetic toward both parties involved and to wonder what the truth is.

The story also does a wonderful job of illustrating the difficulties with reporting a sexual assault case, particularly on a college campus. Between hazy memories clouded by alcohol and little to no eye-witness reports, it can be a hassle to report a case.

By adding the privacy restrictions granted to schools by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), it becomes even harder to obtain details.

With so many steps of testimonies and statements that must be done, a student may never even get a hearing. Meanwhile, the suspect still attends classes or even lives on the same campus. This is one type of emotional hardship illustrated throughout the novel.

Another important point Padian successfully demonstrates through her novel is the involvement of other people in sexual assault cases. Not only are Haley and Richard involved, but parents, lawyers, school officials, witnesses and more are, too.

Rumors spread throughout the campus of what did or did not occur. Jenny’s friends and parents offer contradicting advice. Through all of the characters in the book, the reader learns  how outside influences impact a person’s emotions in this type of tragedy.

Wrecked is effective in discussing sexual assault because rather than a list of facts or figures, it is a story. It tells an emotionally charged account through multiple points of view while focusing not only on the case but on the lives of the people involved.

Although it was released on Oct. 4, 2016, the novel has already been named a Fall 2016 Kids’ Indie Next List pick for teen readers and has also garnered praise from a variety of writers and critics.  

The story feels realistic and relatable with enough suspense to keep readers turning pages. By keeping readers interested through storytelling, Padian is able to artistically communicate the importance and relevance of campus sexual assault.

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