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Publisher's Summary

"Erudite and devastating... Crawford's writing is astonishing... Notes on a Silencing is a purposefully named, brutal and brilliant retort to the asinine question of 'Why now?'.... The story is crafted with the precision of a thriller, with revelations that sent me reeling...." (Jessica Knoll, New York Times)

A Best Book of 2020: Time, NPR, People, Real Simple, Marie Claire, The Lineup, LitHub, Library Journal, BookPage, and Shelf Awareness

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
One of People Magazine’s 10 Best Books of the Year
Semifinalist for a Goodreads Choice Award

When Notes on a Silencing hit bookstores in the summer of 2020, even amidst a global pandemic, it sent shockwaves through the country. Not only did this intimate investigative memoir usher in a media storm of coverage, but it also prompted the elite St. Paul's School to issue a formal apology to the author, Lacy Crawford, for its handling of her report of sexual assault by two fellow students nearly 30 years ago.

In this searing book, Crawford tells the story of coming forward during the state investigation of the elite New England prep school decades after her assault, only to find for the first time evidence that corroborated her memories. Here were depictions of the naïve, hardworking girl she’d been, as well as astonishing proof of an institutional silencing. The slander, innuendo, and lack of adult concern that Crawford had experienced as a student hadn't been imagined; they were the actions of a school that prized its reputation above anything, even a child.

This revelation launched Crawford on an extraordinary inquiry deep into gender, privilege, and power, and the ways shame and guilt are used to silence victims. Insightful, arresting, and beautifully written, Notes on a Silencing wrestles with an essential question for our time: what telling of a survivor's story will finally force a remedy?

©2020 Lacy Crawford (P)2020 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A riveting story of and for our time." (Emily Temple, Lit Hub Most Anticipated Books of 2020) 

"A studied, vulnerable, and maddening account...Crawford melds her personae as a teenage girl, a survivor, and a skilled narrator...Crawford's meditation on the effects of silence, shame, and belief, and the antidotes she had to invent for herself, will add to evolving discussions of sexual assault and power." (Annie Bostrom, Booklist, starred review)

"A harrowing, powerful memoir about sexual assault, trauma, and what happens when institutional power is deployed as a weapon against the vulnerable...Crawford's bravery in recounting her own experience speaks to how powerful it is to have these stories told, to show that no one is alone." (Kristin Iversen, Refinery29

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What listeners say about Notes on a Silencing

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  • Overall
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Everything about this book is magnificent

This book blew me away. It is not an easy listen; it is gut-wrenching and tragic, but it is so well-written and narrated that I couldn't stop listening. I finished it in two days. The author's narration was excellent; her tone and expression were perfect. The content of the book is traumatic, but anyone involved in the world of education should listen. The tale of abuse and cover-up is shocking and needs to be told. This should be required reading for all teachers and administrators, especially those at boarding schools.

31 people found this helpful

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A difficult but important book

The author, fueled by righteous indignation brought on by her mistreatment at the hands of her elite boarding school, lays the whole tangled mess of her adolescence on the table for all to see. That takes real guts, and she obviously has real guts. I found the book disturbing on several levels. For one, Crawford paints an unlovely portrayal of St. Paul's School in Concord, NH, and the lengths to which the power elite in that school went to preserve their reputation at the author's expense. She was unjustly and unfairly treated by the school and its faculty and students, for reasons beyond her control. If the events in the book had happened during the MeToo era, I think things would have turned out very differently for her. Or at least I hope so. But I also found the descriptions of the toxically hierarchical system and structure of the school very disturbing, not only because they make life very difficult for the rank and file students of the school, but because they perpetuate and aggrandize concepts like entitlement and excellence and athletic prowess. I know I'm stating the obvious here, for those who are familiar with institutions like St. Paul's, but I found Crawford's insider descriptions of the place really distasteful. On the other hand, I was grateful to get a peek inside its hallowed halls, perhaps just so I could tsk and tut and think, "thank goodness my kids and grandkids didn't go there." But on a deeper level, it's upsetting and disturbing to think that the slice of American culture that holds places like St. Paul's School to be sacred pinnacles of educational and cultural perfection could be so misguided and wrong. It turns out to be bad for many (most?) of its kids, bad for many (most?) faculty who buy into its misguided ideals and yet molest students, and bad for society who esteem such a lopsided value system. Finally, despite respecting the author's courage and writing skills, I was disappointed by her treatise, and kept hoping for a broader contextual view of what had happened to her and how it had affected her and how she saw that reflected in the greater world around her. That said, I admire her for putting her righteous indignation and anger to good use. I hope that her book will encourage other girls who find themselves in the same position to come forward and tell all so that the perpetrators, be they the sexual predators themselves or the school officials who cover up acts of sexual predation, can be called to justice.

25 people found this helpful

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Excellent - but very mature read

"Notes on a Silencing" is the book that everyone thinking about attending St. Paul's should read. I was there in the 1960s. The book evokes the essence of all that SPS is, should be and might become. It calls for reformation, which we can only pray will happen.
"Notes on a Silencing" is also the book that every mature person should read. It reveals the truth of silencing and the truth of abuse.
"Notes on a Silencing" is a must read book for mature readers.

21 people found this helpful

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Powerful, disturbing, important

This might be the post powerful and disturbing book I have ever listened to. This memoir feels so real and so painful. It is more than just a book about a girl who is sexually assaulted at her school, a boarding school in NH (St. Pauls). It is a full coming-of-age memoir that is so well written. I was drawn to this because I am a high school teacher, at a school that competes with St. Paul's. Lacy Crawford is an incredible writer. Her amazing prose transports the reader into her shoes, complete with the frustration, pain, and the joy of adolescence. To me, this was riveting and painful. It showed many educators at their worst, but it also showed the incredible impact of good teachers in a student's life. I commend the author for stepping forward and telling her important and compelling story.

19 people found this helpful

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A must read for survivors and their allies

Five stars are insufficient to capture the gob-smacking genius of this book. At once brutal and gorgeous, Crawford's exquisite account of her experience will set every survivor's heart on fire; I wish that none of us had these stories to tell, but it helps so much to hear them.

15 people found this helpful

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One of the best books I’ve ever come across

Lacy tells her story in such a poetic and beautiful way. I thank her for bringing her experience to the public so change can happen. I highly recommend this book and hope it gets the credibility and exposure it deserves.

10 people found this helpful

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There Are No Words

The story itself is extraordinarily powerful. But what makes this book truly special is its eloquent writing and even more eloquent narration. Ms. Crawford’s voice is the equal of her style; her candor is beyond impressive. This is a truly important and powerful memoir.

9 people found this helpful

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Painful story. So worth the read.

Wonderful account of sexual assault and coverups. Sometimes the story was a bit difficult to follow as it skipped from childhood to adulthood back to childhood. Overall a great read.

7 people found this helpful

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Wow. Hard to believe we could treat a victim so bad

I have to thank the author for having the courage to tell her story from going to St Paul’s school in NH. So powerful and recommend this book to everyone. Excellent thank you Lacy, I hope it can open some eyes

7 people found this helpful

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Profound

While this could read as fiction it is sadly a very true story. The voice is brave and immensely intelligent and the story fiercely told. Thoughtful, compelling and profound. I hope the author has more books in her.

6 people found this helpful