April a.k.a. Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is meant to raise awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence; and is coming to an end soon, so why not raise awareness into the next month with some book recommendations?
Saints & Misfits by S.K. Ali
It’s about the aftermath of Janna’s assault, her life, her decisions, her doubts, how she copes, etc. It tackles sexual assault within the Muslim community honestly and addresses it with much care and sensitivity. S. K. Ali isn’t afraid to talk about such a relevant topic and its complications when the perpetrator is deeply beloved in a community.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Melissa navigates her freshman year with a heavy weight on her shoulders. She is friendless because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops after she was raped by an upperclassman who still attends her school and is still a threat to her. Speak is a captivating tale about learning to use your voice when you believed it did not matter.
Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
Mara and Owen are not only twins, but they’re also the best of friends. So when Hannah, Mara’s friend accuses Owen of rape, Mara is at a loss. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a monstrous thing? This novel approaches questions about consent, victim-blaming, and sexual assault.
Sadie by Courtney Summers
When Sadie’s little sister Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s world shatters. After a botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice, following clues to find him. Then there’s West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America― who becomes obsessed with finding Sadie and starts his own podcast to try and figure out what happened,
All The Rage by Corutney Summers
Romy Grey knows that Kellan Turner is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is. Nobody believes her though, so Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town where she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl related Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl gets out, Romy must decide if she wants to speak up because the cost of her silence might be more than she can handle.
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Set in the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, The Round House is the story of a boy on the verge of manhood who seeks justice for her mother who was violently raped by a man outside of their community. This book doesn’t shy away from topics such as assault, racism, alcoholism and the struggle of being a powerless teenager when it comes to bringing justice for your family.
What We Saw by Aaron Harkzler
Kate Weston can piece together most of what happened at John Doone’s party, but when a picture of Stacey passed out appears online the next morning, Kate has a feeling she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey presses charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the town flares up into controversy. Inspired by real events, this book takes an unflinching look at the silence in the form of complicity.
Some Boys by Patty Blount
After she accuses the town’s golden boy of rape, everyone turns against Grace. They call her a slut and a liar, except for Ian who is funny and kind with secrets of his own. But how can Grace trust the best friend of the boy who raped her?
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
Once known as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Chanel Miller reclaims her identiy to tell her story about Brock Turner, the man who was sentenced to just six months in county jail after he sexually assaulted her. Her statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it went viral and read on the floor of Congress. This is her story.
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture edited by Roxane Gay
This is a collection of original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women are constatnyl second-guessed, discredited, belittled, patronized, and shamed for speaking out. These essays are by both established and up-and-coming writers, performers, and critics, including Ally Sheedy, Gabrielle Union, Amy Jo Burns, Lyz Lenz, and Claire Schwartz.
As you can see, these are all promising titles coming from victims or witnesses of sexual assault. With the #MeToo movement on the rise and more women coming forward with their sexual assault stories, fiction books as well as memoirs can serve as an exploration for this complicated topic that not enough people think deserves attention.