KC’s Book Korner

Maria Padian shares a new take on highlighting sexual assault issues on campuses with novel “Wrecked”

KC Longley, Features Editor

In a society where the issue of sexual assault occurring on college campuses is all too common, there is a demographic of authors who attempt to tackle the tricky topic, including Maria Padian, the author of the young adult novel “Wrecked.”

Padian graduated with a BA from Middlebury College, followed by obtaining her MA from the University of Virginia. In addition to writing young adult novels, Padian is a freelance writer and essayist.

“Wrecked” follows the story of Jenny, a freshman at McCallum College who formally accuses fellow student Jordan of rape following a party at the Conundrum House. However, Padian approaches the issue in a way that is unique, giving readers perspectives they did not expect. The chapters jump back and forth between two people: Haley and Richard.

Haley is Jenny’s roommate, who is in bed one night when Jenny arrives back seeming afraid and shocked. On the other side of the spectrum, Richard overhears his housemate Jordan go on about a cute freshman that he hooked up with.

Regarding the varying points of view, Padian believes the story being told will evolve depending on who is telling it. “It struck me that our opinions are heavily formed by what we bring to the table, biases we might not realize we have,” Padian said.

Both Haley and Richard end up being their respective roommates “advisors,” basically standing by their side throughout the duration of the investigation.

What was so different about this novel is that the two separate perspectives give a completely different look into rape on college campuses. It does not discredit the perspective of the victims themselves but instead shows how others will see the investigation, regardless of their relationship with those directly involved in the case.

From Haley, readers see just how hard it is for her to have a definite opinion due to her awareness of how drunk Jenny was the night of the party. Being a freshman in college provides new situations that not every student experiences, but most, if not all, students are aware of. There will be alcohol, there will be parties, and there will be situations that can be intimidating. Being aware that her roommate was intoxicated shows how it isn’t that Haley doubts the words of Jenny but instead portrays it is not always easy to see the truth.

For Richard, the audience takes in how hesitant he is to even believe Jordan, especially after his housemate asks him to ignore everything he heard Jordan say about Jenny the night of the party. This highlights that even if you think you know someone, it is always best to be cautious and take note of the things you see and hear. On college campuses, news flies around quickly and it is hard to know what is true.

Some highlights of this book are that issues related to sexual assault are called out. Characters act quickly in response to others desensitizing words like “rape.” Padian does not shy away from making it a point to emphasize that consent is important and necessary. That it has to be given directly, not assumed.

There are some parts of the book that could have been handled better. Character wise, not everyone will agree with Haley and Richard. Maybe these traits about them are what make their viewpoints so intriguing initially, but sometimes they don’t come off like one would expect. Some will be bothered by Richard and his jokes and Haley sometimes comes off more wishy-washy than readers will want.

Regardless of some character traits, “Wrecked” overall gives an arc to a storyline that is different and unexpected. It proves necessary to provide a look into the people that surround the victim(s) and the perpetrator(s) of sexual assault because contrary to popular belief, they aren’t alone.