Danielle Pitts's Reviews > Witness

Witness by Karen Hesse
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's review
Feb 22, 2012

really liked it
Read in February, 2012

Witness is a novel written by Anne Hesse. The book takes place in the 1920’s amidst the Prohibition. The book is characterized by the heavy influence of the Ku Klux Klan and how each of the characters feels about it. The readers see racism, unlikely friendships, hardships, and realizations throughout the novel.

The book is arranged into five acts, with about ten different speaking characters. Other characters are referred to by the main characters, like Ira Hirsh, but have no speaking parts. Each of the main characters has a page or two devoted to a short speech. Using this writing technique, the reader is able to identify the character’s personality. Also seen is how each character feels about what is happening presently. We learn that Merlin, an eighteen year old, is racist and joins the Klan. After being asked to perform an intolerable act of poisoning a black family’s well, he finds that he is unable to go through with it. Merlin experiences a change of heart. Johnny Reeves, on the other hand, was not so lucky. After receiving threats from the Klan, he jumped into the river, intending on killing himself. With these witness accounts, readers are able to understand and appreciate many different viewpoints of each of the characters.

I enjoyed this novel. I had never read a book similar to Witness before. The way that the novel was organized made for a quick read but it was certainly a page turner. I enjoyed reading a novel that was original in its concept.

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