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Know My Name by Chanel Miller Book Review

Reasons for Reading This Memoir: 

I am always looking for knew books to read and open to suggestions for books people loved. In an episode of The Readheads podcast one of the host, Dana, read and recommended Know My Name by Chanel Miller. If you have followed my blog and past book reviews you would know that this type of memoir is right up my alley. Dana mentioned this book months ago but it wasn't until recently that I was able to get my hands on a copy. When getting a book I first look at the library, then at a used book store and lastly an ebook. When I saw it was available at the library I checked it out. As someone who was does not remember when these events where playing out in real time, I was excited to learn about it and learn the personal perspective of Chanel Miller.

Content of This Memoir:

Chanel Miller or who you might know as Emily Doe, was sexual assaulted by Brock Turner at a party on Stanford's campus. Her viral victim statement posted by BuzzFeed promoted change to California law and the recall of the judge from the case. Following the publication she received thousands of letters telling her of they now had the courage and bravery to share their own experiences of sexual assault. In this memoir Chanel is reclaiming her identity, name, voice, and power to the wake of her experience. Chanel brings a voice to the victims who become isolated and shameful of what has happened to them. She exposes the lack of support for victim and the cultural bias that protects the perpetrators. Chanel courageously depicts how to move through suffering and came out the other side with a full and beautiful life. 

What I Liked About This Memoir:

The first thing that comes to mind is how open and raw Chanel was with everything. She didn't spare the reader any detail. She shared everything to the events leading up to the assault and all the details through the end of the case. For a memoir on the topic of sexual assault and a widely publicized case a reader can only ask a writer to be as open and detailed as Chanel was. For that I am thankful and forever grateful that she is willing to be so public. With the topic of this book being focused on a series of events, I appreciated that Chanel started out with the big event and did not make the reader wait until further into the book. The voice and tone of this book was spot on. Chanel is an excellent writer who wrote with wit and humor and seriousness and sternness when appropriate. Her tone was light and playful when recounting happy times and serious, sad, and angry in other times. Reading a memoir with fantasist tone makes it feel more like listening to an interview and seeing and feeling the voice and body language of the interviewee. From the description of the book it is clear that Chanel experiences a significant amount of personal development and growth. Her personal development is displayed through retelling of events and self reflection that she includes following her recount of the event. This is something that is necessary for a memoir because it shows that growth and lessons learned from come from the person's life experiences. I loved that Chanel went through all the phases of the event and her experience following it all the way through the case. Doing this provides the reader with a full view. Lastly, I loved the inclusion of the victim's impact statement. With this being an important part of what made this event so viral it was crucial that it was included. 

What I Disliked About This Memoir:

Because I read this book in a week I was really able to fully immerse myself into it and never really had time to forget what I was reading because I was reading it constantly. If I am being honest there were times in the book where the story lagged and I find it hard to remain invested. I get that this is a story of someone's life and that not everything is always going to be entertaining and exciting. I just wish at these times she would have shorted these sections and focused on other aspects. I also found that parts were repetitive. Clearly Chanel had an agenda of showing the flaws in the legal system, university system, and culture of victims and perpetrators. Her thoughts on these topics were scatter throughout the book as a way to reflect and inform the reader. I found some of these section to become repetitive and redundant. I feel like better editing could have eliminated this. I do understand that this is her time to use her voice and share her thoughts and feelings so I also appreciate that but wish it was more concise. 

Would I Recommend This Memoir?

Yes, without a doubt I would recommend this memoir. I would recommend it not only for the fantasist writing and level of detail on the events, but also for the eye opening realization that culture and the legal system are not meant to support and defend victims of sexual assault. Warning this memoir does detail explicit sexual interactions and assault and may not be the right choice for all readers.

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