A group of white college students becomes entangled in the investigation of an on-campus rape.
Haley Dougherty, a freshman at MacCallum College, suffers her third concussion during a soccer match. Light and sound overwhelm her. So when her mousy roommate, Jenny James, returns to their dorm upset about a party at Conundrum, the notorious party house, she’s intrigued but too out of it to take much notice. Elsewhere on campus, Jordan Bockus brags to his housemate Richard Brandt that he got some action from a freshman at the same party. That night at Conundrum soon takes over the lives of nearly everyone involved when Jenny files a formal complaint stating that Jordan raped her. Reluctantly, both Haley and Richard are recruited as advisers to Jenny and Jordan, respectively, during the investigation, putting them on opposite sides just as a flirtation arises between them. And on top of everything else, Jenny’s fuzzy memories and Jordan’s sense of entitlement make for painfully realistic barriers to the truth. Haley’s and Richard’s alternating perspectives, related in a tightly focused present tense, create a web of good and bad intentions as the investigation lurches on. All characters are realistically flawed and human as they struggle to do what’s right. In the face of recent college rape trials, readers will be rapt and emotionally spent by the end.
An important, devastating new perspective on an all-too-timely subject. (Fiction. 14-18)