cover image Dear Medusa

Dear Medusa

Olivia A. Cole. Labyrinth Road, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-593-48573-6

Cole (The Truth About White Lies) pens a dynamic portrait of one teenager confronting trauma surrounding her sexual assault in this intense verse novel inspired by the Greek tragedy of Medusa. When 16-year-old white Alicia Rivers’s religious best friend Sarah, also white, finds out Alicia has had sex, she terminates their friendship, resulting in slut-shaming from her peers. Home offers no refuge, as Alicia contends with her emotionally absent mother and brother. She finds solace in her food service job’s mundane repetition, even as she struggles with a painful secret: that a widely beloved high school teacher sexually assaulted her. Blossoming friendships with charismatic Deja, who is Black, and gentle new student Geneva, who is Pakistani and white, set Alicia on a path toward healing, until she begins receiving anonymous letters revealing that she’s not the teacher’s only victim—and that someone else plans to step forward. Citing how abusers often leverage societal protection, emotionally raw verse critically portrays one teenager’s experience dealing with the aftermath of assault, and provides a sharp look into cultures built on oppressing survivors’ voices. Rendering the racially- and sexuality-inclusive female cast as both vulnerable and fierce, Cole boldly examines agency, bodily autonomy, and internalized misogyny. Ages 14–up. Agent: Patrice Caldwell, New Leaf Literary. (Mar.)