Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Dear Medusa by Olivia A. Cole

Dear Medusa by Olivia A. Cole
, 384 pages. Novel in Verse. Labyrinth Road, 2023. $18.99.

Language: R (100+ swears, 35 'f'); Mature Content: R (Underage sexual activity, underage drug and alcohol use. References sex acts.) Violence: PG13 (Sexual Assault) 


AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE (I think girls will recommend this book to other girls.)

Alicia Rivers was sexually assaulted by a trusted biology teacher. Afterwards, Alicia engages in self-destructive behavior. She has sex with other adult men in order to feel like she has some control. She hopes these men will say no, but they generally don’t even though they know she is underage. She has lost her best friend because of her behavior, and she is afraid to tell on the teacher because of how society treats rape victims. She doesn’t think she’ll be believed because she is sexually active and was so before the rape. 

Cole’s novel in verse uses extended metaphors of wolves vs sheep/rabbits and Medusa vs The Gods/Men to tell Alicia’s story. The story is filled with rage, and it is done well. As a survivor of child sexual assault, the rage is one thing that many accounts of it forget. Oftentimes because the victim can’t hurt the attacker, their rage is turned inward leading to self-destructive behavior. We see this in Alicia as she gives up the things important to her to try to feel safe. 

The main character, Alicia, is bisexual. Her friend, Deja, is asexual. Her love interest, Geneva, is lesbian. There are slurs used toward Alicia; however, the portrayals are positive. 

 Reviewer: Catherine Crosby 

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