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  Library Journal Review

Recounting a student sex scandal at a prestigious Vermont private academy, this explosive novel from Shreve (Body Surfing) is more transfixing than a multicar pileup on the interstate. Told from the perspectives of the students involved, the school administrator, the parents, and numerous bystanders, the story keeps unraveling as it slingshots back and forth in time. At each revelation, readers keep hoping that things will turn out differently, that there will be survivors, despite the carnage before their eyes. Yet that one night can never be undone: "A single action can cause a life to veer off in a direction it was never meant to go." Shreve arrows in on many targets--underage drinking, instant exposure via the Internet, familial expectations, youthful insecurities, and peer pressure, among them--as she flawlessly weaves a tale that is mesmerizing, hypnotic, and compulsive. No one walks away unscathed, and that includes the reader. Highly recommended. [Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/08.]--Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Shreve, consummate crafstman and frequent provocateur, is on fire in her latest novel, a mesmerizing read centering on a sex scandal at a prestigious Vermont prep school. The story is laid out in short, dramatic chapters narrated by a chorus of participants and bystanders, from the beleagured headmaster to the heartbroken parents to the vacuous girl at the center of the scandal. Three star basketball players were videotaped having sex with a freshman, and the tape was then posted on the Internet. The reaction is immediate and the results devastating, destroying marriages, ruining futures, and, most horrifying of all, resulting in a death. Part of what makes the novel so riveting is its graphic rehashing of a scandal familiar from newspaper headlines, but most of this affecting novel's appeal lies in the way it so carefully fills in the nuances often missing from the headlines. One of the boys, the son of local farmers who was attending the elite school on scholarship, had learned a shocking secret about his mother just prior to the incident and, uncharacteristically, had too much to drink. Conversely, the girl ultimately calls the cops, thereby alerting the media, and accuses the boys of rape because it's easier than having to face the wrath of her father. Shreve views all of the characters, even the most flawed, with a good deal of compassion, revealing the heartbreaking consequences of a single reckless act.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2008 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

A sex scandal at a Massachusetts prep school seen through the eyes of students, teachers, parents and anyone else of even peripheral relevance. Shreve (Body Surfing, 2007, etc.) offers snapshot sketches within a framing device involving a researcher's interviews. Although the scandalthree of the school's basketball stars caught on tape being sexually serviced by a freshman girlis almost tame by current real-life scandal standards, it is understandably life-shaking to those involved. Headmaster Mike Bordwin's attempts to contain the situation backfire when the girl's outraged parents call the police. His hard-won career disintegrates, as does his already shaky marriage. Those losses are nothing compared to his private sense of guilt; Bordwin knows Silas, a gifted scholarship student, was part of the filmed party only because he was very drunk, and he was drunk because he'd caught his mother in bed with Bordwin that morning. A sensitive moral innocent, Silas is horrified at his own behavior. Unable to face his girlfriend, he spends a cold New England night outside writing an apology and freezes to death. Naturally his mother, a devout Catholic, blames herself and her adulterous affair for the loss of her beloved only child. The other boys' mothers have their own guilt. Ellen sent Rob to boarding school to protect him from the very temptations to which he succumbed. Expelled, Rob now loses his early admission to Brown. Michelle, who has long sensed dark tendencies in James, now wishes she had been a stronger parent. James, who calls himself J.Dot, is a shallow unrepentant party animal. He blames the girl. As does Shreve, who paints "Sienna" as a 14-year-old vixen with no qualms about pretending she's the victim, although she purposefully set out to seduce the boys, particularly J.Dot. Afterward she moves on to a new school and, one suspects, new victims. Thoughtful Rob is the only one with a genuinely positive outlook on his future. Slick but lacking depth. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
At aNew England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices--those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal--that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.<br> <br> Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her own greatest work, Anita Shreve delivers in TESTIMONY a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller. No one more compellingly explores the dark impulses that sway the lives of seeming innocents, the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas, and the ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions.
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