MEMPHIS READS: KNOW MY NAME: A Memoir by Chanel Miller

Melissa reviews KNOW MY NAME by Chanel Miller, Viking Press, 2019, 368 pages. 

“My pain was never more valuable than his potential.” 

Chanel’s name will be ingrained in me forever after this powerful memoir about one of the most challenging events a person can experience.  Know My Name is a nonfiction work about Miller’s journey as a victim of sexual assault and even more so a victim of the American justice system.  

Prior to the publication of this memoir, Chanel was better known to the world as the Jane Doe victim of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner. Her victim impact statement was read by millions around the world and even on the floor of Congress. You probably saw it shared dozens of times on your Facebook feed from Buzzfeed, even former Vice President Joe Biden shared it. To get to that viral moment though there were years of judicial delays that assaulted Chanel over and over again, with the added insult of a lenient punishment for the perpetrator.  

This is one of the hardest books I have ever read, but I think it is a vital book for teens and adults.  Women who are assaulted are frequently crucified by their peers, the press, and the justice system. Chanel did everything right, everything you learn from Law and Order: SVU that is necessary to successfully prosecute: witnesses, physical evidence, the perpetrator was physically caught fleeing the scene.  Everything that should of made an open and shut case, yet still the justice system favored the perpetrator.  

Chanel Miller is a born writer, her words were painful and captivating and I hope with this gift she is able to make great change. I also hope she writes about other topics or fiction that bring her joy, because she is truly gifted and worthy of an audience even before the fame she never would of asked for.  

“I did not come into existence when he harmed me. She found her voice! I had a voice, he stripped it, left me groping around blind for a bit, but I always had it. I just used it like I never had to use it before. I do not owe him my success, becoming, he did not create me. The only credit Brock can take is for assaulting me, and he could never even admit to that.”