Review: Wrecked by Maria Padian

Wrecked by Maria Padian
Published by Algonquin Young Readers
Released 4th October 2016
368 Pages

Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Everyone has heard a different version of what happened that night at MacCallum College. Haley was already in bed when her roommate, Jenny, arrived home shell-shocked from the wild Conundrum House party. Richard heard his housemate Jordan brag about the cute freshman he hooked up with. When Jenny formally accuses Jordan of rape, Haley and Richard find themselves pushed onto opposite sides of the school’s investigation. But conflicting interests fueling conflicting versions of the story may make bringing the truth to light nearly impossible–especially when reputations, relationships, and whole futures are riding on the verdict.

Maria Padian offers a kaleidoscopic view of a sexual assault on a college campus. Wrecked will leave readers thinking about how memory and identity, what’s at stake, and who sits in judgment shape what we all decide to believe about the truth.


As you all know I am a big lover of contemporary Young Adult Fiction. I love the way it can portray real life and real life situations that we may find ourselves in at some point. When I heard about Wrecked I was instantly drawn to it. I liked the idea of the book exploring a topic that in my opinion isn’t spoken about a lot in todays society and it should be. I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

Everyone on campus has heard a different story about what happened that night at MacCullum college. Haley, having suffered a concussion at her latest soccer game was already in bed and fast asleep when her roommate, Jenny, arrived back distressed and shocked about the party at Conundrum House which she attended. Richard, hears friend Jordan talking about his hookup with a freshman at said party. When Jenny, a few days later accuses Jordan of rape, accusations fly and sides are chosen. Both Haley and Richard find themselves on opposites sides of the investigation, with their blooming relationship riding on the verdict.

It goes without saying that this book does touch on some very serious and sensitive issues. Although it isn’t glamourised in any way the way in which the back story and the story taking place in the current time is quite gritty at times. This could distress some readers, but for me it just made me realise at how complicated this issue can be and what problems it can cause for both parties – the accuser and the accused. I know some people think that rape is just done by creepy men in alleys (although that is far from the truth), but this book goes to show that it can happen in a place where you should feel safe and by someone who is typically seen as your average young man, just trying to figure out his life and future. 

I loved the realism to this story if I’m being honest. There is victim blaming, which can happen in these cases, bullying, confusion and fear. All things that you can associate with sexual assault. I liked how the story was told from the perspectives of Haley and Richard, both outsiders. When I first read the synopsis of the book I was sure it was going to be told from the perspective of the victim, but I was wrong. This allows us to find out about the accused crime from the outside. You also get to feel the emotions that some outsiders can feel about this sort of situation such as anger, frustration and doubt. Which both Haley and Richard feel throughout. I wasn’t too sure on the blossoming romance between the characters as I thought it was drag us away from the main arc of the story, but I was wrong. I think the relationship between them goes to show us that although you may be on opposites sides of the argument you can come together in the end.

It was really interesting that the gender roles of the two narrators was reversed in someway. Haley was the jock, the soccer player and Richard was the brainiac, the hopeless romantic who got in too deep when his ex just wanted a casual relationship. This I felt was very significant to the arc of the story, which is usually gendered. I found the other characters throughout the book to be interesting in their own ways. Yes, some were dislikeable but this added to the realistic plot. In these cases not everyone is going to be nice, and some are going to be downright nasty and we did see this in this story. The character of, Carrie, although I didn’t like her, could have been explored more. I think she could have been a very three dimensional character if this had been the case. I saw her as this power hungry feminist, but was she really that?

Wrecked was a very insightful read into what happens when sexual assault happens on a college campus. It was a topic that I hadn’t read in fiction before and so really intrigued me. I enjoyed reading it from the perspective of an outsider and it did really make me think about this whole issue in a new way.


Author Bio

Young adult novelist Maria Padian lives and writes from her home in midcoast Maine. Before devoting herself full-time to fiction she worked as a news reporter, congressional aide, radio essayist and freelance writer. These days, she takes breaks from the computer by playing with her Australian Shepherd, texting her grown children, taking long walks along the beach or feeding logs into the woodstove.

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