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Book Review: Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Know My Name is Chanel Miller’s memoir where she writes about her life, including her now highly publicized sexual assault in January 2015 and the events that unfolded after that.

The memoir focuses on the day of the assault as well as the court case, People vs. Turner. Turner was convicted of three charges of felony sexual assault. He was sentenced to six months in jail followed by three years of probation. However, he was released after serving half of his sentence for good behavior. Miller’s victim statement was widely published across the world as is a power piece of standalone writing. Miller was known as Emily Doe and her memoir shows her side of the event and how her life was completely transformed by that night.

This is a powerful book. I had followed the court case and read the statement but this memoir shows what Miller went through. From being a responsible but carefree 22-year-old adult who worked at a startup to a complete and drastic transformation after the assault, the book does not leave out any detail. We see Miller’s Chinese mother who wrote award-winning books, her American father who is a retired therapist, her sister whom Miller protects, and her boyfriend who is there for her. We see how Miller pieces together the assault, her despair and anger at the court proceedings, her activism, her day-to-day challenges and victories, her relationships, her mistakes and victories, and the inside view of the legal system.

The details can sometimes be overwhelming and it is better to read this memoir in parts rather than in one setting. Miller reclaims her identity from being the victim, Emily Doe, to a person who leads a full life with family, friends, and creativity. This is definitely a recommended read with content warnings for sexual assault.

Rashmila likes to read books by/about women/people of color. She prefers fiction to reality. A dog parent and word ninja, she volunteers for non-profits and is multilingual. Favorite genre- contemporary literary fiction.

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