Notes on a Silencing

A Memoir


By Lacy Crawford

Formats and Prices




$23.99 CAD


  1. Trade Paperback $18.99 $23.99 CAD
  2. ebook $14.99 $18.99 CAD
  3. Audiobook Download (Unabridged)

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around June 15, 2021. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

A "powerful and scary and important and true" memoir of a young woman's struggle to regain her sense of self after trauma, and the efforts by a powerful New England boarding school to silence her—at any cost (Sally Mann, author of Hold Still).

Shortlisted for the 2022 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

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 thirty 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?

“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 the Year: Time, NPR, People, Real Simple, Marie Claire, The Lineup, LitHub, Library Journal, BookPage, and Shelf Awareness

New York Times Book Review Notable Book
New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

One of People Magazine’s 10 Best Books of the Year
Semifinalist for a Goodreads Choice Award


Explore book giveaways, sneak peeks, deals, and more.

Tap here to learn more.




I told you I wanted to live in a world in which the antidote to shame is not honor, but honesty.

Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts

Author’s Note

This is, among other things, a story of slander, of how an institution slandered a teenage girl to coerce her into silence. To survive, the story of slander must resonate. An entire community is therefore implicated, and also burdened. I believe this is especially true for a school. We were young. The institution was always the greater power.

Most names and identifying details have been changed, particularly those belonging to my schoolmates.


October 1990, Fifth Form

One evening around eleven o’clock, a young man called a girl on the phone. This was a few decades ago, and they were students at a boarding school, so he called the pay phone in her dorm from the pay phone in his. Someone answered and pounded up three flights of stairs to knock on the girl’s door. She was not expecting the call. He was a senior—a grade ahead, but a couple of years older—and he was upset. Crying, she thought, but it was hard to tell, because she barely knew him. He said something about his mom, swallowing his words. He wanted the girl’s help. Please.

She knew the senior because she had helped his friends in math class. He’d joked in the hall to her once that maybe she could help him sometime. It had been a surprise that he’d sent his attention her way, and this phone call was a bigger surprise. Something must have happened, she reasoned. Something very bad.

She had no roommate that year and lived across campus from her friends (an unfortunate turn of the school housing lottery). Her parents were a thousand miles west. It will tell you something about her naivete, and maybe her character, that to her the strange specificity of the senior’s request—for her help, and no one else’s—is what made his summons feel important, and true.

School rules forbade leaving the dorm at that hour, but she knew, as they all did, how to let the back door close without rattling the latch. She skirted pools of lamplight where campus paths crossed. His room was in shadow. He pulled her up through the window. She landed, in his hands, on a mattress, and she felt and then dismissed surprise—beds could sit beneath windows, of course, there was nothing wrong with that.

His roommate was on the bed too. She didn’t know the roommate at all.

Neither of them had shirts on. Neither of them, she saw, as her eyes adjusted, had pants on.

She said, “What’s wrong?”

They shushed her and gestured toward the wall. Each student dormitory incorporated at least one faculty apartment, where the head of the dorm lived, sometimes with a family. Mr. B.’s apartment was right there, they warned. Her voice through the wall would bring him in, blazing.

He would catch her (she realized) after hours in a male dorm with two undressed seniors on a bed.

Suspension. Shame. Her parents’ shame. (College!)

There was a moment while she waited for the one who had called to tell her how she could help him. He pressed her down. When his roommate did this too, she understood that she could not lift these men and would have to purchase her release a different way.

Four hands on her, she said, “Just don’t have sex with me.”

Instead they took turns laying their hips across her face. Their cocks penetrated her throat past the pharynx and poked the soft back of her esophagus, so she had to concentrate to breathe. The repeated laryngeal spasms in her throat—the gag reflex—caused her throat to narrow and grip their dicks rhythmically.

Someone unbuttoned her jeans and stuck his fingers inside her.

When they were finished, she climbed out the window and walked back to her own dorm, keeping to campus roads this time. There were two security guards who patrolled the grounds in a white Jeep. The kids called them Murph and Sarge, and they saw everything. But they did not see her.

She found the door as she’d left it, gently ajar.

After a long shower, she slept.


This happened in the fall of my junior year in high school, when I was, as we said—using the English terms—a fifth former at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. I have told this story, or some version of it, dozens of times since then. I have told it to parents and friends and therapists and boyfriends and lawyers and strangers. I have been recorded telling it to detectives. I have written it in fictionalized form, work that took years and went nowhere. I have gone years in new cities not telling it at all.

It’s not a remarkable story.

In fact, it’s ordinary. A sexual assault at a New England boarding school. (A boarding school! I was assaulted in privilege; I have survived in privilege.) What interests me is not what happened. I remember. I have always remembered.

What interests me is the near impossibility of telling what happened in a way that discharges its power.

I like to imagine there was a moment, maybe immediately afterward, when my sneakers hit the sandy soil beneath their window and I was free to go, when I might have grabbed the incident by the tail and whipped it around to face me so I could see exactly what was in its eyes.

I had a therapist once, in my early twenties, who suggested that I might describe the event to her and then “never tell it again,” positing a future in which I would have no use for it, which is a way of saying that the assault would have no use for me. She was talking about moving on. I was still mired in the search for remedy.


A note on terms: it took a very long time to find the right name for what happened to me. I was too stunned to think rape when I pleaded with them not to have sex with me, though rape, in the traditional sense, was precisely what I meant to avoid. I had been raised to believe that by every metric, the most serious thing a girl could do was have a penis in her vagina. Not even Mary the mother of Jesus had done that. Certainly I had not. It had not occurred to me what else these two boys might do.

Rape was serious, and I thought—and wanted to think—that what happened to me didn’t really count. I did not understand how the boys’ violation was of me, rather than only a part of me; I did not understand that self-esteem and safety weren’t held like treasure between a girl’s legs, but could be plundered in other ways. This conclusion was neatly congruent with my sense of my body and in particular with a wordless marrow urgency that pulsed, in those first days, with forgetting all about it. I had no purchase even on a name.

For years thereafter, I envied the monosyllabic force of the word rape. Say rape, and people get it. People know the telos of the encounter (intercourse) and the nature of the exchange (nonconsensual). Whereas I had no label. I did not think rape applied, and in any case I refused it, as my private way of caring for other girls; I considered it important to reserve the word for those who would use it to describe their own assaults. I meant this as a form of respect.

Twenty-five years after I’d left St. Paul’s, a detective with the Concord Police Department sent me the 1990 New Hampshire criminal statutes. The terms for the penetrative events of that night were felonious sexual assault (because I was under sixteen) and aggravated felonious sexual assault (because I was held down). I found some satisfaction in this clarity, but only some. I read the statutes over and over. Nowhere in them does the word rape appear. Legally, in New Hampshire as in many other jurisdictions, there are only degrees of assault—descending circles of violation. This is a marker of evolving jurisprudence, because the legal term rape originated to describe a violation of property, not person, which is why it applied only to intercourse, and only to women.

I was looking for it, though. I was looking for the word for the worst thing. For the thing that had not quite happened to me, but which would, when it happened to a girl, trigger rescue, awaken the world, summon the cavalry. As an adult I knew better than to think rape would do it, but still I must have believed it was out there. Still.

Assault conjures violence, not violation. Hence the necessary modifier, sexual. But sexual assault puts sex right in the front window, even though the encounter isn’t, to the victim at least, about sex at all, but about cruelty exacted in domination and shame. And this leaves the listener to wonder: if it wasn’t rape, then what exactly went on? Which means a person, however kind and concerned for you, hears the term sexual assault and is left either guessing or trying not to guess which part of you was violated and in what ways or what you did or how far it (you) went.

So, assault. There are also encounter, incident, event, attack, happening, situation, night in question, time in that room. Little-known fact about victims: they can tell whether you believe them by which term you use when you ask what happened to them.

Victim is a whole other kettle of fish.


When I woke up the morning after the assault, my throat hurt. This often happened. We were five hundred teenagers in a New England boarding school dominated by architectural grandeur and mediocre plumbing. The buildings were either icy or boiling. In the cavernous bathrooms, we learned to yell “Flushing!” before the surge of cold water into the john caused every running shower on three floors to scald. Our windows breathed frost. We woke to glazed lawns and ran across them, athletes, with hair that was always wet. We ate like rats at the back of a bakery, arriving in Chapel with buttered bagels in our pockets. We were wealthy (except for the few, obvious, who were not), well-turned, and in the process of refinement, and our homesickness was a small candle beside the hard-banked fires of our own becoming. Our headmaster, the rector, told us from the pulpit that ours was a “goodly heritage.” Senators, bishops, authors, barons, moguls, ambassadors, peerless curators of life of all kinds had preceded us—schoolboys then! We dragged our fingers along the letters of their names, carved in paneled halls.

Once, during my time there, a man pushed through the double glass doors of the reading room in late morning. We looked up from books and peeked around red leather chairs. The man found the student he was looking for and bent to talk to him, and then he left. The room exploded—appropriately, of course, which meant quietly enough, in rapt whispers. The man was George Plimpton, and he had come to say something to his son, who was a student there.

My point is that we were a room full of teenagers in the early 1990s who knew George Plimpton on sight. That was our job. His appearance on a weekday morning was like a pop quiz from the world.

We were blessed with excellence, and excellently blessed, and our schoolwork and sports teams and choirs and clubs and shoulders thrummed with the Calvinist confidence that is actually a threat: if you do not become spectacular, it means you are not us.

We got sick a lot.

For the most part we ignored it. The ladies at the infirmary, sweet and ineffective, distributed aspirin in pleated cups. I didn’t bother, and anyway, what would I have said? “I was impaled by two dicks, ma’am—may I please have a lozenge?”

My throat got better. I did not tell my friends what had happened. I did not intimate or tease, or do the things people do when they claim to want to keep a secret but really just want to seduce with the lovely shape of their almost-telling. I did not catch the boys’ eyes in Chapel. I did not let myself look for them.


All that stuff I just said about money and power—that’s not just setting. It’s about character. I’m trying to show what I would have given up, what I thought I would have been forced to give up, if I had gotten caught in the boys’ room. I’m trying to argue my side. That’s why I didn’t scream, see? That’s why I didn’t claw their eyeballs out, or bite. I was trying to find my place in that moment, and I could not admit to myself that the moment was violent. Also I was trying to claim my place in what seemed to me, at fifteen, to be the test of my life. I already knew the colleges on offer for those of us who excelled. I had begun to work out the reason for the tiny pauses in conversation before and after people spoke my classmates’ last names. I had learned when it was acceptable to ask where someone had spent the summer, and when you should already know. Whose father held a Nobel and whose was under indictment; whose had just been sworn in and whose laid to rest with televised honors. I imagined our adolescent channels of envy and rapport to be the headwaters of the adult currents of law and policy and finance and education and the arts that you could not, once they were deep and running fast, jump into if you missed them now. I was the older of my parents’ two children, their girl, born to a small family in a small northern suburb of Chicago, and while Mom and Dad would never have said, precisely, that St. Paul’s would be the making of me, when we had toured the place the autumn I was thirteen, my parents had been so undone that I had seen them, for the first and only time in my life, holding hands. I understood this to be my chance to find my way into my own life. Into history. Do you see?

I know I’m stacking the deck in my own defense. Which I should not have to do, because I was a minor and the boys were eighteen and there were two of them—one of whom was on that night almost a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier than me. I was a virgin. They pushed me down and—

I’m doing it again.


The boys, however, talked.

By supper (which four nights a week we attended in formal attire—suit and tie, dresses or skirts) there were eyes on me that the previous day had been unseeing. It had been a steady source of frustration for me that I was unnoticeable, in spite of the assurances of my parents and friends that I was lovely and so on. I was particularly invisible to the boys whose attentions appealed to me: athletes, mostly, but also the occasional shaggy-haired poetic genius. Now several broad-shouldered seniors were looking at me. This was from across a room crowded with students, and as people passed unknowingly between them and me, I caught shadows of respite from the heat of their eyes.

The tradition after Seated Meal was to gather with coffee or tea in the common room outside the dining halls, a sort of proto–cocktail party training. The boys who had assaulted me were not looking at me, but their teammates stared. These boys’ eyes, when I dared to meet them, were incredulous, afire. It seemed to me the best approach was to map the threat; to determine, with quick surveying glances, which boys knew and which did not. Then I’d simply avoid the ones who knew. In case I was uncertain what they knew, one of them called a word in my direction:


The term hadn’t occurred to me. No term had occurred to me. The event had hardened into wordless granite, silent and immobile, and I intended to go around it.

My friends had not heard. But already I was being asked to admit or deny, so that standing there, saying nothing, willing my aching face to be still, I felt complicit in a lie. A space opened between my friends and me. I could all but hear the crack of ground giving way.

In the days that followed, I watched the news pass from student to student, like that horror movie where the villain hops from stranger to stranger on a city street, awakening in each civil soul a demon.

I understand. School days were long and exhausting, but the claustrophobic nature of boarding school, hothouse that it is, tends toward ennui: every morning, at breakfast, These people again? The nation was at war in the Persian Gulf. The Berlin Wall was coming down. But we at school knew little of anything, since there was only one television in each dorm’s common room, and it was often broken. In any case we had little time for television. No internet. The only cell phone was a satellite phone the size of a woman’s handbag, owned by the son of a scion, and you had to go to his room during visiting hours to check it out. Nothing much was happening. And even if there had been something of interest to discuss on that night or any other at Seated Meal, how often did you have a prudish junior girl, a strawberry-blond chorister who had never had sex or much of a love life at all, just up and cruise to a senior boy’s room around midnight to suck two cocks in one go? It was good stuff. I’d have been talking about it, too.


Especially good gossip, no matter how outlandish, contains the sense of its own inevitability. How unlikely I was to have become, of a single night, a prep-school porn star! The illogic of my fall made its own case for truth. Stranger things. She just cracked. I wondered, when everyone was so quick to believe what the boys claimed, if this proved that it was my fault. There was something ugly that they had all seen in me, but I had not.

I was young for my class, having entered St. Paul’s as a high school sophomore—a fourth former—aged only fourteen. I’d started my period a few months prior and was still surprised every time it happened. I was freckled. Just barely had the braces off. I had the knees and spindle of a girl.

In my very first week at the school, I had been taken up by two classmates, also fourth formers, who trailed urban sophistication (Washington and New York) and Samsara perfume. They thought I was hilarious and sweet. I thought they were holograms. One of them wore Chanel suits and pearl-drop earrings, the left earring white and the right one black. One of these girls came with a boyfriend from Bermuda, who was blond and had sapphire eyes and a comical jaw, like the wrong prince in a Disney movie. When we walked into Seated Meal, when the great studded doors opened, he set his hand on the small of her back to guide her in, as though they were forty.

At Parents’ Weekend that first fall, over supper at the nicest restaurant in town, this girl’s mother leaned close to my mom and said something, and my mother, pale with fright, excused herself to the bathroom. Later Mom told me she’d been asked if I was on the pill. The other mom had started her own daughter on it, she offered, so her daughter could “enjoy herself.”

By Thanksgiving my fabulous fuckable friend had dumped her beach prince and taken up with a senior, and new opportunities beckoned. One plan was to steal the newb book from her boyfriend’s dorm. This was an actual stapled booklet of names, home addresses, and birthdays of the new students, typed neatly beneath thumbnail photographs. (The pejorative newb, derived from new boy, had not evolved after almost twenty years of coeducation.) It took some sneaking around to get hold of the newb book belonging to a popular sixth-form boy, but my city friends knew schedules and corridors. Giggling, we thumbed the pages. Her boyfriend and his senior chums had rated all the girls from 1 to 10, to two decimal points. I was happy to see that many of the girls I was coming to know, and whom I liked a good deal, were 7s and 8s. Some assessments struck me as harsh: a curvier girl was graded ruthlessly, and a few African American girls not at all. Other girls, shy but clear-cheeked, had pleasingly high marks. My friends were 10s, natch.

We found my name. Under my picture someone had written: “If a fart had a face.”

“It’s just not a great photograph,” said my New York friend, and turned the page.


Twenty-five years later, in California, I was having dinner with a classmate from St. Paul’s who herself had been raped while a student there, though her attacker was a much older alumnus who liked to take advantage of the fact that there were no locks on our dorm-room doors. We laughed about this, drinking red wine a quarter of a century later. Imagine that—Gothic piles full of sleeping girls, unlocked doors each to each, in the middle of the New Hampshire woods! The country roads we ran on to train for our sports seasons rose and fell along decrepit stone walls, the asphalt shattered from ice and salt. The view was in all directions forested and gave onto an occasional dimly screened clapboard house. It is pure Stephen King country, adjacent to his native Maine. My friend poured more wine and said, “Imagine the book he could write!”

I told her about my assault for the first time that night. She’d known about it but not known it, she said, and she thanked me for telling her. Her boyfriend was with us, and because he is my husband’s dear friend, I filled in some of the story: how the boys had called me on the pay phone of my dorm, and how surprising this had been. “You have to understand,” I told him, adding detail he would not have known, “that these guys had girlfriends. Beautiful, athletic women…”

My friend interrupted me. “Cool,” she said, nailing it. “They were cool girls.”

But they too were used, as surely as the threat of the faculty member catching me there, to lure me in and silence me afterward. The leap of self-preservation my mind made when the boys pushed me down was that no one could ever know about whatever this thing was that was going to happen, because they had girlfriends. (That was also, not incidentally, the chief reason why it never occurred to me that the boy on the phone wanted my body. He dated a beautiful senior, a girl way beyond my measure.) If it were ever known that I had scrumped with these two—the term we students used to describe what happened between boys and girls—I would be shunned. Basic social arithmetic. At the level of my thoughts, at least, I was more in thrall to those girls than I was to myself.

That my reputation vis-à-vis their girlfriends was my concern tells me that I had immediately arrived at two conclusions: first, that a physical assault, whatever form that was to take, was assured. And second, that nobody would believe it wasn’t my fault.


Another note on terms: the two males might be called boys or men, and I use the words largely interchangeably. They were both eighteen years of age, so legally they were adults. Men. But they were high school students, and in high school we were not men and women but boys and girls. They lived in boys’ dorms and they played on boys’ teams. They were members and, in several cases, between the two of them, captains of the varsity boys’ soccer, football, ice hockey, basketball, and lacrosse teams.

I can’t call them guys because there is a friendly familiarity in the word that evokes a certain forbearance of behavior, as with lads, and I won’t give them that.

Perpetrators does nothing for me. Assaulter is not a word. Attackers is useless because they were not Gauls, and so is accused, because I am not here accusing them, nor have I ever accused them. I eventually talked about what happened in that room, but so did they—long before I did, and in much more salacious terms. Nobody has ever disputed what happened between us, what body part went where. By the time I broke my silence, everybody knew, and everybody believed it was my fault. I thought that a good girl—the one they were accusing me of not being—would agree. My assumption of guilt was my defense against guilt.

Girl works for me. I was fifteen.


Two days after the assault, I was walking down the vaulted corridor that led from the dining halls, the place where all the names were carved, when a slovenly ice-hockey player behind me muttered, “I heard those freckles can fly.” I turned and looked at him: stained khaki pants, last year’s red-and-white letter jacket, a spray of blond hair in a near-mohawk, like the ghost of a rooster’s comb. Then I turned my eyes forward. I was walking alone, though students filled the hall in groups of twos and threes.

“It’s true, isn’t it?” he pressed. The shorter jock beside him guffawed. “Freckles everywhere.”

I did not turn around again. I heard their enormous sneakers scuffing the tile and I kept a measured pace as I pressed out the doors and walked down the hill toward Chapel and class, moving the way every bullied child in history has ever walked, eyes stinging, back on fire, wishing to vanish into another world.

They stopped hassling me. But I made note of the incident—I was taking the pulse of the community’s awareness, and it was quickening by the hour.


  • “Erudite and devastating… 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… Crawford’s writing is astonishing.”—Jessica Knoll, New York Times
  • “A riveting, damning exploration of how a single moment can reshape an entire life… [and] a haunting exploration of the systematic ways assault victims are ignored… Crawford’s revelations about the insidious and systematic ways stories of assault are buried left me shaken, moved, angry. By the end, we all understand how rarely women are granted any kind of justice… Crawford does what the best memoirists do: She reaches beyond a single story… in its relentless exploration of power and hubris, Notes on a Silencing is a story that reminds us (because we apparently need reminding again and again) that women are still impotent against institutions and the men who run them… One cannot help but conjure the poised, careful testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and the sputtering, self-righteous rage of Brett M. Kavanaugh… a stunning, audacious attempt to reassert power over her own story.”—Rachel Louise Snyder, Washington Post
  • “The rigor and elegance of Crawford’s sentences, even while writing about such painful things, lifts this memoir into literary heights… Crawford lays bare the impact of violence on identity. She navigates her trauma surgically by trying to establish the parameters of its lexicon… with the help of therapy, detectives, records she thought lost to time, and a new case brought to the fore, Crawford is forcing the unchecked power of an elite institution to answer for their violations and the victims they shoved into silent hallways of despair.”—Kerri Arsenault, Boston Globe
  • "Beautifully done... Notes on a Silencing is powerful and scary and important and true. Hats off to Lacy Crawford for telling this harrowing story. It will surely be an eye-opener for a lot of people, but not for me or millions of other women."—Sally Mann, author of Hold Still
  • “In this devastating account, Crawford presents evidence of how the elite school conspired to silence her. Highly personal yet universal, her brilliant, incendiary memoir lays bare truths about rape culture, misogyny and the rot in America’s most privileged places.”—Kim Hubbard, People (Book of the Week)
  • “One night last July, while my daughters baked chocolate chip cookies, I settled onto the love seat on our baggy-screened back porch and started reading Lacy Crawford’s memoir, Notes on a Silencing. This is a harrowing exploration of sexual assault; it is not escapist reading, but I still inhaled it in one sitting. When I looked up, the neighborhood was dark. The baking trays had run through the dishwasher’s longest cycle (for cooks who don’t rinse) and the cookies were mostly gone. I slept well for the first time in weeks, my mind full of heartbreak, but also courage and peace.”—Elisabeth Egan, New York Times Book Review
  • “Crawford writes with clarity and rueful authority… a strong, clear, unimpeachable voice… Notes on a Silencing is as much a work of meticulous investigative journalism as it is a memoir.”—Jenny Shank, Minneapolis Star Tribune
  • “Maddening and timely, this memoir reveals the cost to victims---and society at large---when powerful institutions protect their reputations, not their pupils.”—Kristyn Kusek Lewis, Real Simple
  • “An astonishing work… so devastating and majestically written… [it] just blew me away.”—Kevin Kwan, New York Times bestselling author of the Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy
  • “Beautifully written… Crawford discovers evidence of institutional silencing and shadowy powers trying to cover up her own case to this day.”—Sarah Kollmorgen, HuffPost
  • “Crawford uses her storytelling skill to illuminate the myriad ways female students were taught that their desires and bodies were less valuable than---even subject to---those of their male peers… Crawford’s detailed account of her assault and its aftermath relies on an indelible memory as well as careful research… Notes on a Silencing is a ghastly account, beautifully told, of a teenage girl learning that people in power often value reputation above all else.”—Carla Jean Whitley, BookPage (starred review)
  • “Crawford plums her own life in this story of her time at the St. Paul's boarding school, where she was the survivor of a long-ignored sexual assault. When news of other, similar incidents starts to come out, Crawford is compelled to revisit her own experience and frankly grapple with the way violence, truth, and guilt are handled in our country's most exclusive institutions.”—Adam Rathe and Liz Cantrell, Town and Country
  • "A shocking, anguished, beautifully written account of Crawford's sexual assault at the elite St. Paul's School in the days before #Me Too---and her belated understanding, after attacks at the school decades later, of just how badly the adults had failed her."—People
  • "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)
  • “Crawford recounts the shocking documented facts in her deeply affecting memoir, its extraordinary power resides in her artful, original, and evocative telling of the story and the cover-up.”—National Book Review
  • "A riveting story of and for our time."—Emily Temple, Lit Hub Most Anticipated Books of 2020
  • “Propulsive… In a precise, lucid account, the author examines herself and the forces outside her that converged to suppress her voice after a sexual assault at a prestigious school… The facts carry readers along as they would in a crime novel, with clinical details that force observers to imagine the motives and emotions of the perpetrators and victim.”—Jennifer M. Brown, Shelf Awareness (starred review)
  • "So beautiful it hurts to read... Assaulted by schoolmates, and then betrayed and silenced by her school and mine, Lacy Crawford has found courage to turn pain into searing voice in this beautiful memoir... For St. Paul's School, Notes on a Silencing could begin Truth and Reconciliation, or a chance to be delivered, as the school prayers ask: 'From the cowardice that dare not face new truths, from the lazy contentment with half-truths, and from the arrogance of thinking we know all truths.'"—Lorene Cary, author of Black Ice and If Sons, Then Heirs
  • "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
  • "A powerful, topical, and incisive memoir... Trenchant in its observations about the unspoken---and often criminal---double standards that adhere in elite spaces, Crawford's courageous book is a bracing reminder of the dangers inherent in unchecked patriarchal power."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "Devastating... A stirring memoir of sexual assault and its aftermath."—Publishers Weekly

On Sale
Jun 15, 2021
Page Count
432 pages

Lacy Crawford

About the Author

Lacy Crawford is the author of the novel Early Decision. She lives in Southern California with her family.

Learn more about this author