You Ruined It

Dottir. (Ordinary Terrible Things). Apr. 2022. 96p. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9781948340304.
Gr 4-8–In her new book, Higginbotham explores the confusion and pain of incest and sexual assault. Using collage and handwriting text in a journal format, Higginbotham shares the experience of Dawn, an 11-year-old who is sexually assaulted by her favorite cousin: the one who took her to the creek during the summer and who she loved spending time with. The text focuses on Dawn’s feelings and emotions after the assault. It sensitively examines the complicated layers of trauma for Dawn, her mother, and Dawn’s older sibling, Billie. Dawn struggles with still loving her cousin and wondering if the abuse was her fault. Dawn’s mom and Billie believe Dawn, but have reactions very different from her. Her mother takes a self-defense course and Billie wants to beat up their cousin. Dawn is struggling with trying to trust anyone again and not wanting to see someone she loved dearly get hurt. The use of collage and handwriting brings intimacy to Dawn’s experiences and captures the messiness and complexities of the situation. In addition, Higginbotham takes time to frontload the narrative with details to support readers and adds additional resources and other supports at the end of the text.
VERDICT Higginbotham approaches a difficult topic with sensitivity and nuance; an excellent, insightful resource for young people who have been through abuse, as well as friends of young people who have been sexually assaulted.

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