• Jenn Kalchik

Book Review: Know My Name

Updated: Jul 27

In 2015, I read an article on Buzzfeed about a sexual assault that took place at Stanford. As the stories about the assault were being covered over the next couple of years, I kept seeing updates about the case that made me mad: the constant discussion of how Brock lost his swimming career, how the judge gave sympathy to the assailant and not the victim, the white male privilege the victim and his family were spewing, etc.

In 2019, Chanel Miller came forward to say that she was Emily Doe. She doesn't refer to herself as Brock Turner's victim and walks us through how she found her voice after the events outside of what the media was telling us to perceive her. I chose to purchase her memoir in the audiobook format because I wanted to keep it for future reading/listening, and I wanted to support her work and her bravery. Her memoir, "Know My Name", is gutting, heart-wrenching, poetic and hopeful. It's wonderfully written and did a fantastic job giving readers Miller's perspective of events during her ordeal.

Miller is not only an extraordinary writer, but she is also a compelling narrator. If Miller would like to continue as a narrator, she would thrive. It was piercing to read about the events from her perspective. Throughout the book, she also sprinkles in current events like Trump's election, Brent Kavanaugh's trial before being confirmed as a Supreme Court judge, and even Elliot Rodger, aka the "incel killer" to help ground the reader into remembering what our culture was like before and after the events of her assault. These moments also tore at my heart, but her intimate moments she retold about her and her family coping with her assault were what made her story so compelling. She walks us through what happened that night, the events leading up to the trial, the trial itself, and how she was recovering from the event.

I could not finish this in one sitting; it took almost a month for me to finish it because I had to take breaks from how graphic some of the content was. And yet, even reading such graphic content, I felt hopeful after reading this. It's a tough read, but it's an important read because Chanel helped change the narrative of sexual assault victims. It's one step forward, and not quite where we want to be in life, but it's an important step, and still a step forward.

I waited to read this book in 2020 to incorporate it with the PopSugar Reading Challenge that I've been participating in. You can use this book for the following prompts:

  • A book that won an award in 2019

  • A book with a three-letter title

  • A book with only words on the cover (the prompt I used)

  • A book with at least four stars on Goodreads

  • A book involving social media

  • A book published the month of your birthday (September)

  • A book written by an author in their 20s

  • A book with a main character in their 20s

Overall, I would highly recommend everyone read this book. There is graphic content regarding her assault, so caution is advised. Chanel - thank you for sharing your story with the world.

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