Truthful in its simplicity and all the more shocking as a result
First off, high praise to Brendan Kiely for tackling such a difficult issue with care.
The story flows between dual narrators who are introduced at very different starting points, both socially and academically and this appealed to me. With this structure as a foundation though, I did find that I wanted to know more about Jules' background. There were numerous references here and there but nothing in detail and it would have been nice to know a little more about where she'd come from, her family life before Fullbrook (the private college) and her final year there. Bax was more forthcoming in his thoughts and memories of home - his humility and frustrations (especially the anger issues courtesy of his family background) were well-depicted in the narrative. The actual description of what happens is so brief and so rushed, it is very likely how shocking and confusing it is for many who go through it. Initially, I had to re-read the scene to fully appreciate what had happened and then the character has to relive it multiple times to try and get it straight in their head as well.
Initially you think, wait, was that it? But on reflection, this was a very, very clever aspect of the book. It made it extremely relatable and showed how easy it is to get into that situation, actually come to terms with it and how incredibly difficult it is to then prove what happened. However, I thought I would care more and realised with a heavy heart, that maybe my de-sensitisation through dramas and news headlines meant that it hadn't touched me as much as it should. The ways in which girls are automatically, or rather, 'traditionally' treated, coming second to boys, sports success, family money and establishment reputation in such educational institutions was threaded neatly through the chapters without hitting us over the head with the message. The scene with the headmaster I can imagine having played out so many times and you can feel the minimalising language, the skewed perspective, the gender imbalance all playing their part to sweep everything under the expensive rugs of the school corridors. I don't agree with other reviewers exasperations that the ending is a happy one. Numerous lives have been diminished due to standing up for what was right. The memories of all the incidents which took place, not just to the main characters, but to the others as well would have impacted greatly on their futures and the truth being obscured in such a way means that attitudes won't be changing any time soon at the fictional Fullbrook. It's an important story to get out there, especially in the age of easy access to online images and videos of pretty much anything you can imagine and I hope young guys read this as well as girls to appreciate that animal instinct is within us all, of course it is, but civilisation has moved on to a far higher level which can bring emotional happiness and partnership, not just that empty feeling of the morning after and 'on to the next one', without having spoken a word.