This is the kind of story that burrows into your heart and scrapes you raw in the best way. Alicia’s story is relatable in the worst ways, but I love the community and friendships she’s able to develop and the strength she finds over the course of her journey.
Last year, the school’s beloved science teacher raped Alicia, but she hasn’t been able to tell anyone, especially because he is so beloved by the entirety of the school. But holding her pain and rage and sadness inside makes Alicia act out, lash out, and act in ways that hurt herself – connecting with random men and seeing if they recognize she’s just a sixteen-year-old girl or if they care, or if they see her as a sexual object. But even as she’s a burning fire turning herself to ash, Alicia makes new friends with Deja and Geneva, who help her find herself anew.
This is such a poignant story and I’m so glad it exists, even as it utterly gutted me. So many of Alicia’s experiences are too familiar – grown men looking too long, lingering touches, inappropriate comments – and I hope reading this story can be validating in showing that those experiences aren’t okay and young girls aren’t inviting those kind of interactions. I really, highly recommend picking up this book if it is content you’re able to handle because it’s so wonderfully handled and especially the ending is such a great reclamation of power and self. Also, the weaving in of the myth of Medusa and Alicia’s letters to Medusa were such a fantastic touch that just add depth and nuance to the book.