Campus sexual assault provides themes for new novel ‘Wrecked’


Wrecked by Maria Padian

Chelsey Schallig, News Editor

Maria Padian’s “Wrecked” follows different versions of a sexual assault on a college campus.

Padian was born in New York City then moved to New Jersey with her family. Her mother is Spanish and her father is Irish, both immigrated to the U.S, and Padian didn’t begin to learn English until she was about 5. Maria was a bookworm growing up and blames her mother because she only allowed her to buy books. Padian graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont where she learned to become a writer.

The story follows a sexual assault from two perspectives: the roommate of the victim, Haley, and the accused rapist’s friend, Richard. Haley has just received her third concussion and her soccer career is just about over. She is sent back to her dorm to rest and falls into a deep sleep. Haley wakes up to find her friend and roommate walking into the room. Jenny, the victim, is always quiet and shy, but Haley notices something is off. Jenny is more withdrawn than usual and eventually the secret is out: Jenny was raped.

Jenny makes a formal statement about Jordan, the alleged rapist, and calls on Haley to act as her representative. Jordan has his own representative, Richard. Haley and Richard meet and become fast friends, not knowing that they share a connection with the case. Readers follow the actual incident of the assault and the aftermath. The dual perspective of outsiders gives readers visuals of the horrific incident that took place. 

Padian does a good job of portraying an everyday college life, which is why the college romance wasn’t tasteless alongside the main plot line. It’s easy to forget you’re reading a story about real life.

The topic of rape is not sugar-coated. We hear the victim’s story secondhand and that creates an emotional buffer. There are several clues throughout the book that the reader must piece together to draw their conclusion. There is confusion surrounding the investigation of the sexual assault. From lying witnesses to unreliable evidence, a conviction isn’t always realistic.

Readers are able to be outsiders to the assault and see the similarities in real life cases: how the victim is accused of drinking too much, how hard it is to punish a rapist, and how easy it is to doubt a person. “Wrecked” forces readers to ask questions and think.

Victim-blaming is also called out and how people desensitize the word “rape.” Readers are left with the message that “no means no” is not enough because people assume that a lack of “no” means “yes.”

“Wrecked” has one main point that is hard for some people to understand: consent is important and necessary.