Title: SURVIVORS’ DAWN
Author: Ashley Warren
Publisher: Chaparral Press LLC
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women’s Fiction / New Adult Fiction
A heroic story of three college women’s fight for justice
At first glance, Brooke Flanagan, Lauren Le, and Nikki Towers have little in common: a churchgoing virgin, a party girl, and a resident advisor. But they all have their own dreams, dreams that can be shattered in a single night.
When freshman Brooke Flanagan first arrives at the university, she’s excited to escape her sheltered life in a Southern town. Lauren Le, a scholarship student, likes to have a good time, but she never disappoints her hardworking, single mom. Nikki Towers always goes her own way. Confident, poised, and wealthy, Nikki’s biggest problem is what to do with her future.
Into these girls’ lives walks Colin Jordan. Colin is the son of a private equity titan, captain of his club basketball team, and a brilliant pre-law student. He is also a sexual predator.
Survivors’ Dawn relates a journey of heroes: the strength, courage, and determination of the victims as they fight to survive; the obstacles they face in their pursuit of justice; and finally, with its conclusion, hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.
A contemporary novel, Survivor’s Dawn wrestles with issues of privilege, sexual assault, and the responsibility of academic institutions to protect their students.
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Brooke Flanagan is ready for the college experience. She has been raised in a conservative, religious household and is ready to breakout. Lauren Le is the daughter of an immigrant and has always balanced her party lifestyle with good grades. Nikki Towers is their cool and confident Resident Advisor who is trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life. Colin Jordon is a wealthy, privileged, smug, college senior who has easily rolled through life. He takes joy in having sex with women against their will and making them believe it was their idea. Colin Jordon is a sexual predator that has always gotten his way because of who he is; this is, until he sexually assaults Brooke, Lauren and Nikki. The three women believe that there is no hope, but together, they find that they are stronger.
This is a very timely and important book that not only shows how anyone can be sexually assaulted, but how you can survive the trauma of sexual assault with support and bring justice to your accuser no matter how powerful they believe themselves to be. With that, it did take me a while to get into this book, the first half of the book details the three women's interactions with Colin, how he gained their trust, acted as a perfect gentlemen, even suggested that they slow down at points. I think what threw me is that the voices of the characters and the dialogue did not quite seem to match that of a college-aged women. The writing at the beginning seemed to be aimed more towards adult parents than college students. There was just something slightly off about it, like the fact that they were calling their down to earth resident advisor, 'Cool RA.' Or when Colin was described as "...a thief in the night, a modern-day cat burglar pursuing jewels of a different sort.." Something about the language just threw me. After the assaults, when the women were dealing with the emotions of being raped and assaulted and trying to figure out how to band together and fight back, was when the intensity picked up for me. It was great to see Colin sweat and the women gain strength instead of feeling like they had to hide their attack. The most intriguing parts for me were the friendships gained, the support groups and the actual hearings for Colin's behavior. The best advice comes in the epilogue as well, how to help someone who might be assaulted and how to help yourself.
This book was received in exchange for an honest review.
The unending accounts of sexual assault on college campuses compelled me to write Survivors’ Dawn.
My goal in writing the novel was NOT to focus on the act itself, but instead, to write of the victim’s journey, to tell a story about the strength, courage, and determination of survivors, to describe the difficulties they face in their pursuit of justice, and finally, to offer hope for a future where students can pursue their dreams without fear of being attacked.
As Lady Gaga’s “Til It Happens to You” implies, non-victims can never truly know how it feels to be assaulted, but we can try to empathize, and we can try to help. Awareness is key to reducing the incidence of sexual assault on campus. Please do your part by taking the It's On Us pledge and contributing to organizations that are fighting on the front lines.
Thank you to readers who give me encouragement. It means so much to me. Word of mouth is an incredible thing, so thank you also for telling your friends about Survivors' Dawn.
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LAUREN LE BEFORE:
At eleven thirty Lauren Le stood with her new friends at the Homestead, a lively bar in the Triangle. Everyone talked at once, shouting to be heard above the music. The Homestead had space for a couple hundred people, with a large square bar in the middle, dozens of stand-up tables, and two dance floors. The constant beat and the bass notes coursed through Lauren’s veins.
She took a slug of the vodka soda.
Pace yourself, Lauren.
It had taken her a month to get comfortable on campus. She had grown up in Irving, Texas, outside of Dallas, and had never traveled this far to the east before starting school here. Some of her high school friends had gone to college, but none as far away as Lauren. They fell short when it came to grades and test scores and ambition.
Lauren was the result of a short-lived and reckless affair between a Vietnamese immigrant, Kim Le, who worked in a nail salon, and a tall Texan who lit out for the oil rigs as soon as Kim missed her first period. Kim had never heard from him again, and she seldom mentioned him to Lauren. As Lauren grew older she became curious and would sometimes ask about her father.
“I was stupid,” Kim had said. “I tried for a big dream with a big white man. But he was no good.”
When Lauren pressed for more information, Kim would grow adamant.
“You forget about him. You need to study.”
If Kim wasn’t working at the salon, a short distance from their apartment, she was doing piecework for a local tailor. Kim never paid Lauren an allowance, but she let her work a part-time job so long as she kept her grades near perfect.
With a tired mother and an absent father, Lauren was forced to learn how to have a good time on her own, and at that she had excelled. As a senior with a full figure, a fun nature—her hobbies were cosplay, online gaming, and organizing flash mobs—and a curious mind about partying and sex, Lauren had always attracted guys.
She had drunk one cocktail at the Italian restaurant and started with a shot of tequila at the Homestead. When they had first arrived, the girls danced as a group for nearly an hour, not allowing the dearth of boys to deter them from getting the party started.
Lauren took a break, her head buzzing slightly from the alcohol and the dancing. Cool air from the duct above her whisked away the perspiration.
God, college is fun.
The bar began to fill, and boys drifted by their group in ones and twos. A sophomore from New Jersey bought her another drink. He was her height, with red hair, and talked fast in a northern accent. He was almost cute, except for a big pimple and his lack of coordination. They tried dancing but couldn’t make it work. Afterward, he told her his dream of becoming a veterinarian. Snore.
Lauren spied one of the resident advisors from Roxbury Hall, Nikki Towers, watching her from the other side of the bar. The girls had approached Nikki when they first entered the Homestead, nervous because they had used fake IDs to get past the bouncer. They needn’t have worried. Nikki’s nickname was Cool RA. She had a reputation for doing her own thing in her own way and never traveling in a crowd. Cool RA had wished them a good time but advised them not to get wasted. (“I’m your RA, not your babysitter.”) Nevertheless, when Lauren caught Nikki’s eye, she could tell Cool RA was not impressed with the New Jersey kid.
“So…,” he said, “do you want to come over to the frat house and listen to music? I’ve got some killer weed.”
His eyes were glazed and his shoulders swayed, like a five-year-old on a bicycle. Lauren wasn’t a fan of just-met sex. If he had been gorgeous, like Liam Hemsworth, then maybe. Wait, maybe? Not maybe. Definitely! But she would not have sex with New Jersey, at least not tonight. “You know, I’m gonna hang with my friends a while longer. Thanks, though.”
“Not a problem. Catch you later.”
He leaned toward her as if expecting something. She hesitated, unsure, and then offered to shake hands. He only got about ten steps before he stopped to chat up another girl.
“What did he want?” said Caitlyn, her roommate. Caitlyn’s face turned sour as Lauren told her of the invite to smoke pot. “Eewww! That guy?”
They laughed. Lauren was light as a feather. She could party all night.