Reviews

Know My Name by Chanel Miller @VikingBooksUK #KnowMyName #ChanelMiller #BookReview #NonFiction

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Viking ( an imprint of Penguin)  September 2019

Book Description

She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter.  Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus.  Her victim impact statement was posted on Buzzfeed, where it instantly went viral – viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case.  Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time.

Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words.  It was the perfect case, in many ways – there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured.  But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best – case scenarios.  Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.

Know My Name will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing.  It also introduces readers to an extraordinary writer, one whose words have already changed our world.  Entwining pain, resilience, and humour, this memoir will stand as a modern classic.

My Thoughts

I saw this book all over Instagram and while I was familiar with the case, I had not read the Victim Impact Statement but equally knew this was a book I wanted to read.  Stellar reviews stating, ‘everyone should read this book’, reeled me in and I must say I wholly agree with everything that had been said.  Put simply this book was incredible and I was completely blown away.

Chanel Miller writes honestly and empoweringly about the rape that changed her life.  Her strength is astonishing and her refusal to be shamed by what happened to her in a world that is shockingly male and misogonistic is incredible.  None of what Miller says is new or indeed unknown but her story is eye opening because it takes an immense amount of courage to do what she has done, to stand up, to stay standing and hold others to account.  Make no mistake, this was no walk in the park for Miller and her story is a difficult and painful read, her trauma and loss tangible.  But I felt hope because undoubtedly she is a survivor and in telling her story I hope she has paved a part others can walk.

I agree with others who have described this book as essential reading, this book provides a comprehensive account of a rape, and in doing so it naturally covers issues including consent, the legal process, forensic medical examination, support and psychological trauma.  It is impossible to read without reflection, as a woman for me this was about how victims are routinely treated and viewed, how women are reported about and how sexual violence against women is perceived.  Equally I think it is impossible to read without empathy and as a woman to feel empowered.

I do think this could be a useful and positive book for secondary school children – 15/16 year olds to read in schools and could be a strong educator about sexual violence, consent and the impact of this.  Regarding Brock Turner, his sentence was shockingly light, but there was something stark about all he lost which I think could resonate with young people when thinking about their actions and consequences.

And for those who have read the book or know the case well, a quick shout out to the Swedes and of course to Chanel Miller for telling her story, for being so brave and strong and having the courage to tell her story with honesty and without shame.

About the Author

Chanel Miller is a writer and artist who received her BA in Literature from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  She lives in San Francisco, California.

3 thoughts on “Know My Name by Chanel Miller @VikingBooksUK #KnowMyName #ChanelMiller #BookReview #NonFiction

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