Know My Name by Chanel Miller
Published by Viking on September 24th, 2019
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction
“I am a victim, I have no qualms with this word, only with the idea that it is all that I am.”
As soon I read Viking’s press release statement about Know My Name, I immediately put it on hold at the library. Finally after all these months, I got to read it!
To the world she was known as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus.
Her victim impact statement was posted to BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral. It was viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally, read on the floor of Congress, inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge on the case.
With Know My Name, she now reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words.
I was blown away by this memoir.
Often times I find that memoirs are not particularly well written. But Miller is fantastic with her prose. And you will probably know this if you’ve read her victim impact statement. That strength and elegance carries over.
Miller’s writing is superb. The way she describes the moments after she comes to in the hospital, how she describes her loneliness and emotional outbursts in private and in court, her detailing the struggles of trying to heal and recover while people actively were trying to discredit her — I felt like I was right there with her.
I appreciated the way she paints her life both before and after with such vulnerability. She includes so many wonderful moments from her life with her family, friends, and boyfriend. She’s a woman who’s a loving sister, an attentive daughter, a fun girlfriend, as well as being a poet and artist. Victims are not solely defined by one event — they are more than just what happened to them.
Miller also does a very thorough job of talking about the trial and its impact. There are things she highlights that I don’t think anybody ever talks about.
She talks about how her sister had to continuously rearrange her plans for school and her work schedule because court dates kept getting delayed. And Miller drained her bank account just to cover expenses like buying appropriate clothes to wear to court.
My pain was never more valuable than his potential.
Miller also wasn’t afraid to get political. She talks about the failure of the system to protect victims of sexual assault. She even takes on Stanford and their reluctance to own up to their lack of support for victims and how they were eager to do the minimum and hope the story would go away.
Her story as detailed by her illuminated a disgusting culture biased to protect perpetrators, but she ultimately shines light on the courage it takes to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.
I recommend this book to anyone. It brings forth the most important piece of the Brock Turner case that we were all missing before. Miller is so inspiring and I hope she continues to write!