Cover Image: Privilege

Privilege

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I read Mary Adkins book When You Read This on gender so I thought immediately that I would also enjoy this book and I did. While it was frustrating at times, mainly disagreeing with actions of the main characters, it was overall a very good book highlighting the different experiences of three young women and the privilege and allowances given to others on college campuses.
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I wanted to like this book. Really, I did. But after picking it up to read on several occassions and only getting about 70 pages into it, I had to retire it. I just couldn't make myself care about the characters at all.
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Following the success of her debut, WHEN YOU READ THIS, Mary Adkins returns with a sharp, smartly written novel about the intersections of class, gender and race set on the idyllic campus of Carter University, "The Harvard of the South.”

PRIIVLEGE is told from the points of view of Annie, a smart young woman with body image issues; Bea, a brilliant and resolute biracial girl; and Stayja, a townie who works at Carter to support both her ailing mother and her dream of becoming a nurse. Coming from wildly different backgrounds and viewpoints, they provide a thoroughly fleshed out and at times painful portrait of life on a prestigious college campus that claims to be liberal, but in fact holds up many troubling double standards, particularly when it comes to gender and socioeconomic class.

Annie Stoddard was tragically disfigured by a grill that fell onto her when she was younger, leaving her with dark, criss-crossed scars that cover her legs. For years, she has hidden herself away in jeans and sweatpants, even during Georgia’s hottest summers, but Carter offers her a chance to forget all of that. An accomplished bassoonist, Annie has earned a full scholarship there, but in addition to that, she has found work as a bassoon tutor, earning upwards of $50 an hour to train her professor’s son. Her earnings have enabled her to pay for plastic surgery to erase her intense scarring, and now, at the start of her second year at Carter, she is ready to wear shorts and miniskirts and feel like a real girl for once. Even better, an attractive, shaggy-haired frat boy named Tyler Brand has noticed the change in her confidence.

As a biracial young woman, Bea Powers has her misgivings about attending college in the South. Accepted to Princeton, Yale and scores of other liberal arts schools with impressive track records, she has been drawn to Carter for its Justice Scholars program. She read a book by the lead professor during high school and ever since has been fascinated by the ins and outs of justice, and how difficult it is to define in a world rife with racism, classism and sexism. Though eager to follow in her favorite professor’s footsteps, Bea is doing it mostly alone: her father was never part of the picture, and her mother passed away a few years ago. She lives with her best friend and the girl’s loved ones, who are her legal guardians, but being a white family with a private plane, there are certain things about the justice system she knows they simply won’t understand.

And then, just behind the counter of the Coffee Bean, we have Stayja York. Stayja is smart --- both bookish and street savvy --- but the world seems destined to crush her. She and her mother live in a home owned by relatives, but even then, they cannot seem to make ends meet. Stayja makes too little at her job to qualify for benefits, and confusingly her mother makes more money on disability than she could at any job she could actually get and maintain. Straddling the lines of poverty and financial stability, they struggle to stay afloat while Stayja attends college. Luckily for Stayja, she has two best friends and, recently, the attention of a long-haired frat brother who attends Carter.

Annie, Bea and Stayja’s lives intersect when Annie wakes up one evening to find Tyler sexually assaulting her. Eager, like so many women, to write the incident off as a drunken accident, Annie strikes up a pleasant but anxiety-filled relationship with Tyler. And then, on a night when there is no alcohol involved, he rapes her again. She quickly files charges with the school, and the Carter campus opens up to waves of misogynistic comments, fiery arguments about feminism and consent, and a gender war that no one can possibly win.

With Tyler’s “trial” approaching, Bea is appointed as his student advocate, someone who can help him navigate the justice system, collect witness statements and lend a supportive ear. Bea, who is familiar with Tyler through her work with the school’s improv team, is shocked to find that he is not only remorseful, but ashamed. Though she has always believed in siding with the victim --- especially if she is a woman --- she finds herself worried for Tyler. Stayja, too, is caught up in his boyish charm and shaggy head of hair. When he tells her that Annie is lying, she believes him, even when the argument hits a little too close to home.

Though PRIVILEGE is, at its core, the story of a rape trial gone terribly wrong, Adkins covers so many other types of privilege and their trappings in this smart, poignant book. Even as Tyler is revealed to be a rapist, he is desperate to help Stayja apply for student loans and rethink the ways that the government can and has helped her. Similarly, Bea balks at the racism displayed by her classmates, but fails to see the other types of predators around her. This is a novel full of “gray areas,” and though I would argue that the rape is not one of them, Adkins is thorough and careful in her rendering of the reactions on campus --- from derogatory comments from students to poorly thought-out op-eds by professors and, finally, the school’s ruling on Tyler’s behavior. Weaving a story all too common to readers familiar with the #MeToo movement with thought-provoking commentaries on race and class, Adkins forces readers to consider not only their own privileges, but how they have perpetuated dangerous and toxic cycles of racism, sexism and classism themselves.

This is an ambitious book, and though Adkins has a strong handle on each of her themes, her prose failed to dig as deep as I would have liked. Bea in particular felt ignored at times, and it would have been nice to see far more of her experience as one of the few POC students at Carter and in the Justice program. Her actions vacillated between hopelessly naive, needlessly reckless and downright absurd, and I wanted her to be more fully developed, especially as her role in the story was one of the most interesting, as a woman defending a rapist. Adkins accomplished so much with Annie and especially Stayja that Bea’s chapters felt rushed and devoid of the same intellectual prodding that she has proven herself adept at.

All in all, PRIVILEGE is a thought-provoking and timely novel about the ways in which each of us hold and fight against both our own privileges and those of others. Though sexual assault is the book’s main theme, I was impressed by Adkins’ bravery and willingness to confront other types of privilege. I just wish she had pushed even further when it came to race.
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As a social worker, this was quite an emotional ride. Through intertwining stories, Privilege really takes a look at racial, economic and sexual injustices in our society. Adkins's gripping writing truly highlights injustices and their personal impact. It's a close look at power dynamics and is reminiscent of Know My Name by Chanel Miller.
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Here is a look at privilege at its worst and best. You have young people who have had it easy and those who have the privilege of higher education at the hands of benefactors. You feel the anger and the resolve of these young people . It is clear they realize this os opportunity but it is also a social handout they resent.  I did enjoy the insight into how these “gifts” were decided and the extent to which they were used and how it opened up a world of influence and opportunity.
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This book was just ok. A story of college, an alleged rape. The story is told in alternate voices. I was very excited to receive this book, but I had to push myself to finish it. The book drags too much. Not the best. Thanks to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for the arc of this book in return for my honest review. Receiving the book in this manner had no bearing on this review.
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In Privilege, Mary Adkins creates a complex and thoughtful tale about how the ways in which money, talent, race, gender, and violence impact our lives. The novel focuses on the lives of several students who cross paths because of an assault. Each of these students faces relevant and timely pressures such as: trying to live up to a legacy of success, grief/mourning, the influence of powerful and unscrupulous advisors, and financial woes. The book also makes the daring choice to alternate first person and third person point of view. While I think the moral ambiguities written about in Privilege are well worth thinking about and wrestling with, I failed to feel deeply for any of the characters and found it difficult to distinguish their voices. Perhaps this was part of the point; by being anchored, in some way, to the school, they all had privileges that failed to occur to them, making them all more alike than they would be comfortable admitting. Ultimately, this is a campus novel that engages with university subjects like psychology, sociology, and philosophy, but which would benefit from more attention to character development.
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It’s been a few years since I went to college, and when I did- it was at an urban campus in NYC. Now working at a university, I get more of a sense of that prototypical college experience. Privilege speaks to that experience from a variety of vantages around a particular event (the sexual assault of one of the protagonists) at an elite, fictional university in the south. The 3 main characters do not know each other and all represent varied cultural, familial, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds and are all impacted by the events of the book. 
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Privilege is layered and interesting and explores overlapping layers of privilege in interesting ways.
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The characters are mostly complex and the main conflict of the book is similarly difficult to untangle. Given #metoo and the increased awareness around campus sexual assaults this book feels timely and important. Although it has moments that are deeply and darkly funny (something I appreciated in her previous book which I LOVED), this book has moments that are difficult to read. The sexual assault and fallout from it, is raw and relatable (and for me, brought me screeching back to my own traumatic experiences). 
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So big TW/CW but in general, a read I really liked. It was enjoyable and interesting with imperfect but captivating characters.
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I would give Privilege four stars. The only reason to not go the whole way is because at times the story did drag through events that I did not consider important to the story. However, I recognize that is a personal preference rather than a legitimate complaint. If there was a way to give it four and a half stars on Netgalley, I would have. The story is serious, but not so serious that you are repulsed by it. In addition, Adkin’s language and characters are really quite lovely.
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I was drawn to this book after I read Chanel Miller's memoir: Know My Name. I can see the two books being an interesting companion read with a book club. Privilege is a fiction story of rape on a college campus, told in three voices. I thought this book was timely and thought-provoking. I think it was my reading order (having read this second) that made me feel like I was missing some authenticity of voice in this book.
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A #MeToo movement inspired book about rape culture on college campuses. This book examines life after rape, with all the emotions and things that go with it. Things like telling your parents, going to the ER alone, and Title IX. This book talked about A LOT. In some ways, I think it would of been better had it focused on one story instead of three. However, it fully explores what life is like after the rape on college campuses. It wasn't an easy read, nor should it ever be. It's difficult to read books like this, because these events we are reading about do happen. This book made me feel angry, sad, frustrated, spiteful, and at times hopeful. In the end, I found myself wishful that we lived in a better world.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Harper for an ARC of Privilege! In this book, Adkins deftly follows the lives of three women on campus and the aftermath when one accuses a man on campus of rape. The novel intertwines issues of media, campus assault, police response, privilege, and more while remaining relatively light to read. 

I enjoyed the way in which the differing perspectives brought in the complexities of what happens following a rape on a college campus. There were moments where the timeline threw me off and became hard to follow, and I had a hard time with the relationship between Tyler and Stayja, though I won’t say more and will let readers decide for themselves.

Overall, 3 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed reading this book.
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This is a must read for all. Stop reading reviews right now and just read Privilege. Mary Adkins nailed it.
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This was a layered, thoughtful book about sexual assault, power, and privilege. I appreciate the way the author built the book on the experiences of three different (fictional) women, as it added to the complexity of the story being told. The ending was both devastating and realistic, and I ache for a time when books like this are no longer necessary.
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PRIVILEGE is a solid book about campus life, the Me Too movement, and how sexual assault in a school setting affects young women. It's handled with a lightness, though, which makes it easy to read (though perhaps that isn't always the best thing). I enjoyed the book, but there are many other books like this one that I would recommend first, unfortunately. The book, like the subject matter, can often be messy but it is still a worthwhile read especially for the characters and how the book is presented.

It is of its time, and I enjoyed the writing style and the humor peppered throughout, The three women who share the narrative are well-rounded and interesting characters, and I felt very strongly for them. There are also shocking and profoundly sad moments in the book. It explores every aspect of a Title IX complaint, from the history of the relationship, to how a school handles it, to what role money and privilege play in the outcome, to how it affects interpersonal relationships between friends and family afterwards. It is stark and depressing, and though this may be well-trodden territory, it certainly doesn't mean that these stories don't need to be shared and explored as often as possible.
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"Privilege" by Mary Adkins just didn't work for me. To be honest, I had problems with the writing style. I kept forgetting that I was reading about College students. The characters felt like high school students because of the immature prose. I also didn't like the 3 point-of-views. Annie's perspective should've been the only narrative. I didn't feel like Bea and Stayja's narratives were necessary. The story would've been a lot stronger if Bea and Stayja were introduced as secondary characters instead. I also didn't like the tone of this book. The story is centered around a sexual assault on a college campus, and I didn't think the subject matter was handled appropriately. I felt very uncomfortable and irritated. I found the whole plot/outcome to be insensitive and patronizing. 

Thank you, Netgalley and Harper Collins for the digital ARC.

Release date: March 10, 2020
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Set on the campus of a private university this story explores the experiences of 3 women and their relationship with a man of privilege. It look at the consequences of actions and if they are different depending on your 'family. Will you be believed if you are a woman? Powerful and a topic that needs to be discussed.
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A pretty slower starter, but it definitely went somewhere once it got going. Don't be put off by my shitty metaphor, this is worth reading
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I really enjoyed this book. If you're a fan of college/university novels, it will pull you in through that at first but there's a much deeper story that is told and touches on how universities grapple with #metoo and consent. I would highly recommend this book by Mary Adkins.
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Enjoyed this title, but was disappointed after adoring Adkins last novel. There seem to be a lot of private school narratives coming out lately and this hasn't been my favorite. Still an enjoyable read!
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