Review: Know My Name

Rating: 5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING — This post (and book) discusses sexual violence.

I didn’t know that if a woman was drunk when the violence occurred, she wouldn’t be taken seriously. I didn’t know that if he was drunk when the violence occurred, people would offer him sympathy. I didn’t know that my loss of memory would become his opportunity. I didn’t know that being a victim was synonymous with not being believed.

-Chanel Miller, Know My Name

Know My Name by Chanel Miller is a breathtaking examination of sexual violence and the rigorous reporting and prosecuting process from the survivor’s perspective.

Miller herself is the survivor of the now-infamous Stanford rape case involving the detestable Brock Turner. This memoir is her giving voice to her experience, both of the rape and of the next few years as she works through the so-called criminal justice system to get Turner prosecuted for his actions.

This book is absolutely not for the faint of heart. Those triggered by sexual violence would be wise to consider reading this book during periods of good mental health. But it is such an important story that needed to be told, and it gave me some much-needed perspective on a personal situation. For me, Know My Name was an instant favorite. I checked out a digital copy from the library, and I related it to it so hard on such an intimate level that I bought myself a paperback copy from Barnes and Noble. Then I found someone selling a hardback copy on a Facebook group and bought it, selling my paperback copy in the process. Long story short, I loved the story that Chanel Miller told, and hated the absolutely necessity of it, so much that I had to have it in its most solid form. Every time I look at the book on my shelf, I don’t think of the struggle and the fury that this woman had to endure in her pursuit of justice. Instead, I think of strength, perseverance, and integrity, all of which are characteristics that define survivors of sexual violence.

Chanel Miller’s story is not atypical. It’s her bravery in vocalizing her experience and her pain that is so extraordinary. She is a heroine in her ability to bear all that she has borne and to still have enough of herself to give that she would freely share such an exhausting and consuming story. Her courage is what is atypical.

For those only interested in fiction, I urge you to read this story in all its sincere and raw honesty. For those of you who have been impacted by sexual violence – whether directly or indirectly – this story of hers is also yours and mine and ours. For those of you with little interest in women’s issues and the rippling effects of rape, this book is probably most important to you. Because her story is one so timeless, ubiquitous, and pervasive, every adult should read it. And everyone with faith in the American justice system should read this book and have their faith shattered.

Dates read: September 21-22, 2022

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