The Sharp Edge of Silence by Cameron Kelly Rosenblum

The Sharp Edge of Silence

I picked up The Sharp Edge of Silence because of the main plot—a rape at a private high school. As my debut novel, Lipstick Covered Magnet, tackled rape, acceptance, and healing, I knew this book would be for me.

The novel follows three narrators: Q(Quinn), Charlotte, and Max. They each hold a vital piece to the puzzle and offer varying perspectives on the culture (and secret organization) of Lycroft Phelps. As someone who has struggled with sexual harassment and assault, Q's journey and rage sat with me in a way only I believe a fellow victim can understand. Q's story was raw, painful, and honest about living with trauma, and I believe Rosenblum did a phenomenal job conveying the struggles of living through sexual assault and how—until you've healed—your body no longer feels like yours.

While Q's narrative was compelling and important, Charlotte's and Max's felt bloated. I enjoyed their commentary on jock culture and the secretive nature of Slycroft but ultimately felt their sections lagged and only offered something of real importance near the latter quarter of the novel. I also didn't need 20+ pages of Max rowing with the crew. After a while, I began glazing over those scenes.

Overall, I loved Q's plot—from depression to rage to eventual acceptance and healing. I just felt it would have been more poignant and rich without so much commentary from Charlotte and Max.

I recommend this novel to anyone interested in YA novels that tackle sexual assault, healing past traumas, or toxic sexual expectations.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Quill Tree Books for the ARC.*

I May Destroy You and its Multi-Faceted Finale


*Warning: This review contains spoilers.*

I May Destroy You tackles rape in a compelling and unique way by emphasizing how personal and layered the recovery process often is. Where Kwame eventually moves past his assault and finds peace and a bright future in someone who enjoys him more for who he is than what he happens to offer between the sheets, Arabella struggles writing the novel that’s already late to the publisher because she’s too busy helping other victims with their trauma.

After recruiting Zain’s help, she soon comes to realize that the story she needs to tell is the one she hasn’t accepted. This metamorphosing of plot is what we find in the finale.

The last episode offers three endings that center around confrontations with her rapist. In the first, she pretends to be drugged to trap her assaulter (in this version named Patrick) into falling for the bait and getting spiked himself. In this scenario, Arabella beats him to death on the street. She ends up stuffing the body under her bed, where she’s hidden every other horrible or triggering item throughout the series. This version releases all the anger she had previously repressed.

The second scenario was more interesting. Instead of getting back at David (the name she offered her rapist this time round), she pities him and takes him to her place after he implies he was sexually abused as a child and grew up to become a serial rapist. Arabella grapples with the why here. She moves from her feelings and attempts to find a possible reason why her assaulter did what he did.

The third scene, and certainly the most important in her journey, was that of acceptance and letting go. In this version, Arabella seduces Patrick (note how the name changes back to the original name she assigned — hinting again at the art of revision) and takes him back to hers, but in this scenario everything is reversed. She takes him from behind, ensuring she has the power. At the end, she tells him to leave and he walks out the door, right before his dead body slides out from underneath her bed and makes its departure. This symbolizes her recovery. By working through these endings, she is finally able to move past the assault.

I know many critics have noted how I May Destroy You shines a unique light on assault and trauma, but I must restate how authentic and raw Michaela Coel’s writing for the series is. As she wrote the script after she experienced a similar assault, the series comes across as genuine and personal. Everyone’s journey to recovery and acceptance is different, and I believe the series does a wonderful job of showing how there’s no right way of moving past something as traumatic as rape.

Tell Me When You Feel Something by Vicki Grant


*I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The following post contains spoilers.*

I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. I was gripped almost immediately by the story; the way it was structured made it easy and pleasant to read. Where many novels make the back and forth of past and present timelines difficult to follow, Tell Me When You Feel Something does it in a way that doesn’t result in whiplash.

The main characters — Davida, Viv, and Tim — are given the amount of backstory needed for the plot to be effective. My only criticism regarding character development relates specifically to Viv; I still don’t completely buy what triggered her alcoholism. Sure, a need to feel in control is important (especially at such a young age), but there were many other ways she could have gone about taking control. She also mentioned never having drunk prior to that year; neither was she particularly close to the partiers. It didn’t jibe with everything else.

The latter section of the book could have been handled with a little more finesse. Sexual assault is such a controversial and triggering topic, and I feel it could have been a larger part of the novel. If the reader was offered the truth behind what happened to Viv closer to the beginning of the third act, there would have been room to expand on her emotions and trauma. Instead, we are offered this information knowing the book ends with her in the hospital. There isn’t much closure on Viv’s end which I believe a story like this needs.

All in all, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to YA readers nearing the end of high school.