Involved in a secret five-year relationship with her middle-school teacher, Ortiz focuses on the emotional toll experienced at the hands of "Mr. Ivers." It is pretty satisfying to watch as Ortiz slowly becomes aware of the inequalities of this relationship, yet at the same time, it's entirely heartbreaking to watch this child (because, let's be honest, that is exactly what she is) take step after step toward the abyss — completely unaware of the skittering gravel beneath her feet.
While the reader may still want the closure of the after-story of Ivers's discovery and prosecution, this is not that story. Here we discover why, at 13, Ortiz walks open-eyed into a sexual relationship with a man more than twice her age. But can a 13-year-old girl, romanced by her teacher, go open-eyed into any relationship? Of course not, but she doesn't know that; she believes she is making a decision about her life. We discover why she doesn't tell, why she keeps the secret, and why she continues the relationship for five years. Isn't that what we always want to know in these situations — the "why?"
Excavation is... just that: a peeling back of layers to uncover what hides underneath. Wendy Ortiz absolutely flays herself wide open, and this excavation is one that will equally repel and compel you. Beautifully done, Excavation is one of my favorite reads this year.