This searing and intimate novel in verse follows a sixteen-year-old girl coping with sexual abuse as she grapples with how to reclaim her story, her anger, and her body in a world that seems determined to punish her for the sin of surviving.
"This is more than a story about sexual violence—this book is about race, sexuality, love, and how anger can be a catalyst for healing." —Gabrielle Union, bestselling author, actress, and producer
Sixteen-year-old Alicia Rivers has a reputation that precedes her. But there’s more to her story than the whispers that follow her throughout the hallways at school—whispers that splinter into a million different insults that really mean: a girl who has had sex. But what her classmates don't know is that Alicia was sexually abused by a popular teacher, and that trauma has rewritten every cell in her body into someone she doesn't recognize. To the world around her, she’s been cast, like the mythical Medusa, as not the victim but the monster of her own story: the slut who asked for it.
Alicia was abandoned by her best friend, quit the track team, and now spends her days in detention feeling isolated and invisible. When mysterious letters left in her locker hint at another victim, Alicia struggles to keep up the walls she's built around her trauma. At the same time, her growing attraction to a new girl in school makes her question what those walls are really keeping out.
"[This] fierce and brightly burning feminist roar…paints a devastating and haunting portrait of a vulnerable young woman discovering the power of her voice, her courage, and her rage." —Samira Ahmed, New York Times bestselling author of Internment and Hollow Fires
About the Author
Olivia A. Cole is a writer from Louisville, Kentucky whose essays have been published by Bitch Media, Real Simple, the Los Angeles Times, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, Gay Mag, and more. Olivia is the author of several books for children and adults.
2024 ALA Rainbow List Selection
★ "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....both vulnerable and fierce, Cole boldly examines agency, bodily autonomy, and internalized misogyny." -Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ "Cole’s prose is beautiful, thought-provoking, and filled with emotion....This novel is one that readers won’t put down willingly." -School Library Journal, starred review
"Dazzling with clarity, blistering with anger....In shimmering verse, Cole breathes life into each young woman....This book is as wide in scope as it is economical in its language. Illuminating." -Kirkus Reviews
"Cole’s novel in verse is a raw and uncompromising view into the sexualization of young women. She peels back the layers of Alicia’s trauma, fully immersing us in a world where we are cradled in Alicia’s pain and then her subtle pinpricks of joy." -Booklist
“Racial and cultural awareness…and the highlighting of multiple forms of sexuality and the power of women supporting women help broaden the story’s scope.” —Horn Book Review
“A #MeToo novel-in-verse that tackles purity culture, slut-shaming, and female rage all while honoring survivors with a plot that centers the healing journey of the main character. This book is brutal and ugly in its truth, but gentle and gorgeous in its embodiment of hope.” —Ashley Woodfolk, New York Times Book Review “20 Great Queer YA books to Add to Your Reading List”
"Dear Medusa is a searing read, both emotional and so, so smart. Olivia A. Cole takes on questions of systemic sexism and racism in masterful verse—you ache alongside her characters as they learn to speak the language of justice. Dear reader: get ready to have your heart beautifully broken." —Brittany Cavallaro, New York Times bestselling author of A Study in Charlotte
"Furious and gorgeous and raw—an unflinching exploration not only of a teenage girl’s anger and grief but her capacity for love and joy....Alicia’s voice will not turn you to stone; it will sink its teeth into you and not let go.”—Nina Varela, author of the Crier's War duology