I remember when the CU Boulder Title IX case went to trial because it was around the time I went to college and I saw firsthand how it altered the culture (in a good way) of big football schools like the one I was attending. What we knew was that an atrocity happened: a girl was raped by several football players/recruits as part of the recruiting process. You know, making sure those high school boys had a good time so they’d want to sign with the university. I almost just vomited. But what made this situation interesting and important is that the individual boys weren’t put on trial; the school was. That’s primarily because the school would have done anything to protect its star players and “make it go away” – attempting to secure justice via that route would have been fruitless. But it was also to set a precident because the more they looked, the more evidence they found that the school knew what had happened, knew what was consistently happening, willfully ignored it, and actively helped design a culture that promoted the behavior. As the lawyers began building a case, they enlisted the help of Erika Krouse who has a weird knack for getting people to confide in her, making her the perfect PI.
This reads like a memoir but also like literary nonfiction. That’s because Krause seems to be wrapping her head around her own trauma as she works through the case that serves as the book’s guiding plotline. Because this is built around a true case, some readers may feel let down that the book doesn’t cover it in a completely straightforward manner. Names have been changed and Krause digresses to reflect on both her past and present anytime her work leads her to a personal epiphany. I actually liked this different approach, but it did mean that it took a minute for me to feel engaged since I wasn’t sure if I should be invested in the case victims’ story or Erika’s. Turns out it’s ok to hitch onto both.
4 out of 5 stars.
Pair with: La Naranja Amarga (because it’s bitter)