A graduate student takes a job monitoring sexual assault on campus and becomes personally implicated in Wells’ (Harvest Homicide: A China Connection, 2014, etc.) novel.
A recent Claremont McKenna graduate, Katie Russell’s plans for post-college life disintegrate when her boyfriend, Justin, decides he will move to Seattle without her. After picking up the pieces, she elects to attend the University of Colorado for graduate school in philosophy. As she prepares to move to Colorado, she gets a call from Justin. He tells her that he made a mistake and begs for another chance. Katie declines, settles in to school, and finds she enjoys living alone in Boulder. She befriends neighbor Ava and crushes on a cute professor. She takes a job with a nonprofit funded by a secret philanthropic source. The job is to report any potential sexual-assault crimes on campus. The job also promises a hefty scholarship bonus if she meets certain requirements. Despite her misgivings, Katie accepts the job. But she becomes more directly involved in the university’s sexual-assault problems than she had anticipated. The book is extensively researched and the writing clear, but as the novel attempts to simultaneously educate and entertain, it grows didactic. The main characters can be oversympathetic toward predators or assign blame to victims, which may realistically portray flawed actors but becomes unnecessarily frustrating, particularly in a book that seemingly aims to educate. Occasionally characters wax preachy or share perspectives that seem unlikely, like college-age women discussing how dating has changed over time. The plotline is engaging, however, and the subject matter offers plenty to ponder.
A well-considered but pedantic novel on sexual predation.