... meticulous ... Schwartzman clearly conveys the brutal banality of what happened in that town, the way rape culture, victim blaming and institutional complicity are the rule rather than the exception in American communities. Steubenville could be anywhere ... Something of a companion piece to Schwartzman’s 2018 documentary of the same name, the book expands on the film’s insights by combining vast amounts of contemporaneous evidence with historical analysis, personal reflections and skillful interviews. The book makes an effort to stress that the Steubenville case was made up of individuals, and though we learn virtually nothing about the victim — anonymized as 'Jane Doe' — the attackers, townspeople, police officers, parents and school officials transcend archetypes to become textured, tangible individuals, all of them navigating cultural myths, conflicted loyalties and the potent pull of denial. But Schwartzman’s compassionate attention to these figures renders her depiction of their moral failures all the more damning: These are human beings, otherwise capable of responsibility and empathy, who did not manage to show these traits to Jane Doe ... Perhaps the most compelling of Schwartzman’s characters, and the hardest to pin down, is the internet itself ... meticulous about protecting her identity, telling readers only that the girl grew up, got married and tried to move on. Shielded by anonymity, she gets to live a fuller life, becoming more than the worst thing that ever happened to her ... But as Jane Doe, she becomes a stand-in for all the victims of sexual abuse who never got justice. This is the price, perhaps, of the cultural forces that conspire to keep sexual abuse victims in the shadows: Those who do come forward have to carry the weight of all those who can’t.
... brings to it the benefit of historical perspective and her filmmaker’s eye, laying out the events and aftermath in exacting detail. Schwartzman, working with coauthor Zelevansky, also includes the perspectives of a California-based crime blogger who spent her youth in the Ohio Valley and Steubenville women residents who came forward with stories of personal sexual assault from previous decades. This compelling account offers heartbreaking evidence of the pervasive, systemic, and toxic misogyny that thrives in many American communities.
... powerful and compelling ... Using interviews, police records, trial transcripts, and social media posts, Schwartzman and her coauthor Zelevansky give readers an inside look at rape culture, victim blaming and shaming, and the need to provide comprehensive sex education ... This first-rate book will appeal to anyone interested in feminism, women and gender studies, or criminal justice.