Editor's note: Every other week, writer Sierra Hoeger will be recommending and reviewing her summer beach read books. Keep an eye out for more upcoming beach reads reviews.
"Know My Name" by Chanel Miller is a heavy story, as Miller shares the story of being sexually assaulted by Stanford student and athlete Brock Turner. Miller recounts how it took a toll on her mental health, the grueling, time-consuming, seemingly never-ending trial and court process and how it has shaped her relationships, work life and future.
I was in my early years of high school when this story made headlines — I had just gotten my driver's license. I was taught the basics of driver safety, especially when driving and going places alone. Consistently, there are tips and tricks on social media that inform young women on what to do should they be in a dangerous situation.
This story, however, reminded me of the dangers that are still posed, no matter how careful you are. Or how ‘normally’ you believe your night is going.
I am a true crime junkie and oddly interested in stories that are often hard to consume. I’ve read books on Columbine, the O.J. Simpson case and was utterly in love with my media law class last semester.
This story introduced me to a new side of the court that rarely gets told. The side and voice of the survivor. This book promised to take us on Miller’s journey — from being dropped off at a college party to the conclusion of the trial. From the very first page, the book proves to be very detailed. You can tell that Miller has taken the time to show, rather than tell, her readers what happened.
Miller gives a very raw, detailed depiction of what happened the night she was assaulted, waking up in the hospital the morning after and going through the different court processes for the first time. This book definitely opened my eyes to the reality that is being a sexual assault survivor.
Throughout the book, Miller recounts childhood memories that relate to the situation happening or that give context as to why she or another person acted a certain way. These anecdotes help shape the story and help to build the ethos of the story.
Miller takes us along her very linear healing journey, starting with not opening up to anyone about the assault, setting up traps to help her fall asleep at night, opening up to a therapist, being so distraught she fails to eat and sleep, to then at the final reading for the case, looking out and spotting a familiar crowd backing her up and having a support system at her side.
After the final verdict is read and the case is near its end, letters are written to Miller and those who testified with her, showing her she’s not alone.
Toward the end of the book, Miller scrutinizes Stanford’s lack of resources available to her and the response they had toward the assault. Over the course of a year, a tribute garden is set to be planted so the dumpster where Miller was assaulted will no longer be the focal point of the area.
Fast forward a year and the tribute garden is not what anyone expected. Miller is not impressed with the tribute and instead wishes Stanford’s image in her mind would return to how it was before the assault. Growing up near campus, Stanford was home to many childhood memories for Miller and her younger sister.
In the Memorial Union women’s bathroom stalls, there are signs posted informing women on what to do if they’ve been assaulted. I am very lucky to not have needed to utilize these resources, but I am glad I’ve at least been exposed to them should I ever need to.
Hearing how Stanford didn’t approach the situation as Miller would’ve wanted them too, I’m grateful Iowa State makes an attempt to keep students aware of resources available to them.
"Know My Name" is a powerful story, one of brokenness and healing. Miller brings you into her world for a short period of time and opens your eyes to the realities of being a sexual assault survivor.