From Publishers Weekly
Shreve's novels (Body Surfing
; The Weight of Water
) benefit from propulsive plots, and her mixed latest, with its timely theme of debauchery among children of privilege, does not lack in this regard. The first paragraph foreshadows a tragedy in which three marriages are destroyed, the lives of three students at a private school in Vermont are ruined, and death claims an innocent victim. The precipitating event is a sex tape involving three members of the boys' basketball team and a freshman girl. Beginning with an account of the debacle by the Avery School's then headmaster, and segueing to the voices of the participants in the orgy, plus their parents and others touched by the scandal, the narrative explores the widening consequences of a single event. Shreve's character delineation is astute, and the novel's moral questions—ranging from the boys' behavior to the headmaster's breach of legal ethics to the guilt of those involved in the death—are salient if heavy-handed, while the female characters are wicked in the way women have always been stereotypically portrayed. The novel is clever, but the revolving cast of narrators often feels predictable and forced, keeping the novel on the near side of credible. (Oct.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Most reviewers hailed Testimony as a deft, insightful exploration into the tragic, far-ranging effects of a single night. Yet critics diverged on a number of points. Some thought that Shreve's diverse perspectives made the sex scandal and other characters' plights, such as those of the guilt-ridden adults, more immediate. But a few claimed that the fractured narrative distracted from examining the morally gray situation more fully and decreased the overall emotional impact. Character development similarly raised questions. As the reviewer from Los Angeles Times noted, the girl on the tape—portrayed more as vixen than victim—"is Shreve's missed opportunity for an exploration of what drives young girls toward promiscuity." In the end, however, Testimony—like Shreve's other novels—is not always enjoyable, but it's impossible to put down.Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC