KC’s Reading Korner

Author Allison Leotta shines a light on sexual assault on college campuses with "The Last Good Girl"

KC Longley, Staff Writer

The amazing thing about authors is that they are able to create a world where readers can dive in and experience a completely different reality. Some are so good at their job that they can make one feel the emotions of the characters to the point of crying with them, laughing with them and sitting at the edge of their seat in high anticipation of what is going to happen next.

Allison Leotta is one of these people. As a former federal sex-crimes prosecutor, she uses her experience and her intelligence to show readers something new. In her life she handled crimes agains children, domestic violence and sex crimes. She creates stories that highlight the issues one always sees flickering across their television screens, giving a look into the federal side of life that people can only imagine. She does this in her newest novel, “The Last Good Girl,” which centers on a very important issue that everyone needs to be more aware of: the constant issue of sexual assault on college campuses.

Recently, with things such as the 2015 documentary The Hunting Ground, which showcases the issue of assaults on campuses being hidden and swept under the rug, this hot topic has been getting a lot of attention, as it definitely deserves.

“The Last Good Girl” begins by following Michigan based Tower University freshman Emily Shapiro. A young girl who once was excited beyond belief to finally start her time at college soon found herself falling into her own pit of despair. Soon her peers noticed a change in her attitude and half a year into her first year, Shapiro is discovered to be missing. The main suspect in her disappearance is Dylan Highsmith, whose family is one of the most known and prestigious to be connected to the university.

Readers soon meet Anna Curtis, a prosecutor centered in D.C. who happens to be in Michigan when Shapiro goes missing. Curtis discovers a series of vlog’s that Shapiro uploaded onto a school site that actually outlined her first six months of school, in which she accuses Highsmith of rape. His fraternity, Beta Psi, is the fraternity on campus known as the “rape factory.”

When reading “The Last Good Girl,” readers learn a lot of information about statistics of college assaults, and Leotta gives a good look into the way people of authority on campuses react to accusations of rape. Unfortunately, the way even adults treat this issue is heartbreaking. Even in the novel, Shapiro finds herself in a situation where she attempts to open up to someone about what she has been going through, only to be pushed aside. This is based off real scenarios where people on campuses try to cover up accusations of assault, purely because these things could negatively affect the views of the school.

Not only do students feel pressured to not tell anyone about what happens to them, but they feel as if it is their own fault. If they had only wore different clothes, or decided not to drink what was given to them, then this horrific thing wouldn’t have happened.

Leotta also highlights something small that not everyone might consider an affect on campuses. As Curtis explores the dormitory of Shapiro, she sees vending machines offering things ranging from regular snacks to condoms. While noted that ensuring safety is important, Leotta writes, “still, she wasn’t sure about the wisdom of packaging sex as an option as casual as a snack.” Something like this could possibly influence students in a less than positive way.

“The Last Good Girl” is an accurate but sad portrayal of actual situations students on campus go through on a constant basis. College campuses are full of all types of people, and it is important to emphasize that all students can be the victim, no matter their gender. Danger lurks around the most unsuspecting corners for new students fresh on campuses, and having this level of awareness spreading through all forms of media is something that could not come sooner.