The best YA books of the #MeToo movement

The Books I Picked & Why

Shout

By Laurie Halse Anderson

Shout

Why this book?

For decades, Laurie Halse Anderson’s work has been a guiding light for so many young people in her honest portrayals of life’s hardest challenges, including sexual assault. Her 2019 book Shout, a memoir written in verse, is a deeply personal reflection on her own experience with sexual assault and its impact on her life. She first tackled this topic twenty years earlier in her groundbreaking 1999 novel, Speaka book that profoundly affected me as a young person. Born out of outrage over the lack of change that has happened in regard to how society treats survivors (and perpetrators) of sexual violence in the twenty years since Speak was published, Shout is a beautifully fierce and moving call to action for today.


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The Nowhere Girls

By Amy Reed

The Nowhere Girls

Why this book?

The Nowhere Girls tells the story of a diverse group of girls who come together, and in finding their own strength, raise their collective voice to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate. I love the truly empowering message of this book: That we (as individuals, and society as a whole) have the ability to raise each other up, and demand that survivors’ stories are seen and heard. This book came out in 2017, directly in the midst of the #MeToo movement going viral—and not by accident. This is one of those books that holds a mirror up to society, perfectly reflecting not only the problem, but also offering a model for change and justice.


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Learning to Breathe

By Janice Lynn Mather

Learning to Breathe

Why this book?

Learning to Breathe tells such an important side of the #MeToo Movement, with sixteen-year-old Indira (Indy), a Black Bahamian girl who struggles to find her place in the aftermath of an assault that leads to an unwanted pregnancy. Set in the Bahamas, a place so often portrayed in Western culture as idyllic, it depicts a very different gritty and authentic lived reality for the main character. This heart-rending, yet empowering novel is enlightening on so many levels. Not only does it offer the unique and all-too-often overlooked point of view of a young person of color, but it also deals with complex family issues, homelessness, and a young woman’s path to claiming power over her own body and future. 


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The Mirror Season

By Anna-Marie McLemore

The Mirror Season

Why this book?

The Mirror Season is a novel about two teenagers: a girl and a boy, who are both sexually assaulted at the same party. While this book addresses such important themes as injustice based on race, ethnicity, class, and gender, it is also poetic and exquisitely written, drawing on elements of magical realism that are rendered with immense care and depth. This book brings to light multiple important points of view through its main characters, including a queer Mexican American female survivor, as well as a White male survivor. These perspectives are so necessary but have not traditionally had enough representation within mainstream dialogue about sexual assault, which is often focused on straight, cisgender white women.    


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I Have the Right to: A High School Survivor's Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope

By Chessy Prout, Jenn Abelson

I Have the Right to: A High School Survivor's Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope

Why this book?

I Have the Right to is the true story of Chessy Prout, who was sexually assaulted as a freshman as part of a ritualized “game” of conquest perpetrated by the boys at her high school. The book follows her quest for justice, as her case and trial gained international media attention. She has become a passionate advocate for consent education, and in 2017 (at the age of eighteen!) she started a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness of sexual assault in high schools. I’m in awe and admiration of the bravery and strength of this young woman, and believe everyone—teens and adults, boys and girls, everyone—needs to read her story. 


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