April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and provides us an opportunity not only to voice our support for survivors but to explore the justice system, the resources available to survivors, and to look at the systems in place that allow these crimes to go unpunished. This month, I challenge you, if you are able, to read or at least peruse one of these ten excellent books about sexual assault–whether it’s a memoir about being a survivor, an investigation into a famous case, a fiction book that deals with the topic, or all of the above. 

Of course, these books should be prefaced with a trigger warning for sexual assault and abuse. No one should pick them up if they know they are not in the right head space to read them at the time. However, if you are able, and looking to learn more about how to help survivors and expand your own empathy, I challenge you to read one of these books this month. 

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Chanel Miller bravely wrote her memoir after years of being only known as Emily Doe, the survivor of a brutal attack by Brock Turner. In this memoir, she takes back her story and tells her story of survival in a way that will speak to every reader. You can read our full review of Know My Name here. 

Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson

One of the first book-related intros to sexual assault many people have is Laurie Halse Anderson’s classic novel, Speak, which was also made into a movie. The tale of a girl who loses her voice, literally and figuratively, after an assault reaches new audiences in this amazing, black and white graphic novel adaptation of the story. 

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow

If you’ve been fascinated, and horrified,by the #MeToo movement and the cases against Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men, you’ll want to read this book by journalist Ronan Farrow which looks at how the movement has progressed and the lies and conspiracies that have tried to protect these bad, bad people.

I Have The Right To by Chessy Prout

Like Chanel Miller, Chessy Prout was a survivor long before anyone knew her name as the victim of a cruel boarding school incident that spoke to larger issues in the community. In this story about her decision to stand up for herself and others like her is an excellent read, especially for teens and young adults. 

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

If you like fiction, Shakespeare retellings, strong women, and darker books, this is the one you want to read. This feminist retelling of Macbeth shows a girl taking revenge into her own hands after an assault, she won’t stop until everyone has suffered. This book isn’t your traditional “survivor” book but it is so well written and compelling. 

The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland

History or art lovers will enjoy this book about a 17th century painter who had to overcome her assailant and the toxic culture of the time to make her art and make a name for herself. This book is not only well written, it’s all about a strong women making art and overcoming something that no one expected her to. 

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen is the queen of contemporary YA novels, and she’s not afraid to tackle hard topics. She does just that in this novel, where Annabel must work through her own thoughts about the assault she survived as she attempts to find herself and trust again. This is a great way to introduce topics of assault survival to teens who might not be ready to read hard-hitting memoirs from survivors. 

The Girls by Abigail Pesta 

The story of Larry Nassar and his abuse of countless gymnasts, including household names and gold medalists, shocked the world. This non-fiction book by Abigail Pesta tells the story not only of how he was caught, but how he got away with it for so long and how the gymnastics and sports world in general will reckon with it going forward. 

RELATED: 5 Resources Everyone Should Know For Sexual Assault Awareness Month

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

This #ownvoices fiction book about manipulation, abuse, and survival is one of the most anticipated books of 2020. With past and present at play, Vanessa must decide whether she wants to speak out and what she truly thinks about her experiences as a child as she looks back on them as an adult. There’s a reason everyone is clamoring to read this book. 

SHOUT by Laurie Halse Anderson

If you love Speak, you’ll enjoy Laurie Halse Anderson verse recount of her own experience as a survivor, as a writer of survivors, and as someone who many people come to to talk about their own experiences. This is a moving, thoughtful read.

If you or someone you know is in need of sexual assault support services, visit www.rainn.org or call the 24/7 crisis hotline at (800) 656-HOPE(4673).

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Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member