Pause. Okay it’s summer AND I’ve been deep into working on an article for School Library Journal about the representation of sexual abuse survivors in fiction for teens.
It’s something I’ve been watching for decades now, how survivors are depicted in film, on the news, and in literature. In the article, I won’t be getting into the history of it. My editor at SLJ has given me 1,700 words–not a conjunction more–to state my case so I am focusing on how to evaluate new books.
But historically, it is interesting. I’ve seen waves of stereotypes: Pitiful Victims, Damaged Goods, and of course the psychological Monsters of murder mysteries and legal defense strategy (Kate Atkins’ Case Histories is a recent example–a child is murdered by–tada!–the kid who was being sexually abused!)
But I am also seeing something totally cool happening which is that, in young adult fiction at least, competent, active survivors are also being portrayed.
Gigi Boudokian in Chris Lynch’s Inexcusable is one. Even though the story is told through her rapist’s eyes, Gigi is so firm in her truth that when she says, “You raped me,” we believe her not the narrator. In The Place Where the Losers Go by Beth Goobie the two main characters are dealing with dissociation and PTSD, yet they are able to help each other figure out their lives. They are heroes, not victims.
And there’s a new book coming out in January, Such a Pretty Girl, by Laura Wiess, with a very strong survivor at its core.
The article is slated for October publication. As soon as it comes out I’ll post a link here.
I’ve learned to live with blog spam. Comment function is turned on again. As always, there’s a delay before your comment goes up. That’s when I okay your words and delete the ads for Xanax and low rate mortgages.