Dear Medusa

­Listening Library. Mar. 2023. 650p. $50. ISBN 9780593667590.
“My whole life is how it feels/when you get your purse stolen,” 16-year-old Alicia admits—initially only to herself in this verse novel, in which Cole also deftly makes her aural debut with a solemn, smoky-voiced narration. “This world is full of wolves”—men who hunt young prey—a lesson Alicia learned at 14 when a 21-year-old violated her. Her lifelong BFF abandons her for “sleeping with guys.” Everyone’s favorite teacher targets her. School becomes a daily battleground. Wolfish abuse becomes shockingly commonplace. Alicia’s detached single mother and estranged older brother underscore her isolation. And then anonymous notes in her locker reveal another victim. Stubborn classmates, at least, won’t abandon her, offering true friendship and perhaps even a chance to love.
VERDICT Cole embodies Alicia’s vulnerability with aching authenticity.

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