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Young Adult Fiction about Sexual Assault and Abuse

*Warning: This selection of books (and therefore, descriptions) will include discussion of sexual assault, abuse and other sensitive topics.

From politics, to Hollywood, to children’s literature, the #MeToo movement, originated by Tarana Burke a decade ago, has found momentum in the last several months. Like Burke, many writers have been considering this heavy topic for some time. Some survivors find comfort and solace in reading stories that reflect their own experiences, while readers who have not experienced sexual assault or harassment may gain a new sense of understanding and empathy as they connect to characters’ stories. Here are seven young adult novels that take a look at various forms of sexual abuse from different perspectives. 

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
After Susie is raped and murdered by her 36-year-old neighbor, she watches from her own personal heaven as her family and community learn to grapple with the horrific circumstances of her death. The Lovely Bones examines the cycle of abuse, as well as the fallout, that loved ones experience. 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Friendless after calling the police at a house party, Melinda has started high school with a deep and painful secret. Assaulted by an upperclassman, Melinda struggles to heal from her experience until the assaulter makes another attempt. Also available as a graphic novel, Speak is a Me Too classic.

Candy by Kevin Brooks
When teenage musician Joe meets Candy, he’s immediately inspired to write a song for her. Before long, Joe gets wrapped up in Candy’s worldone that involves prostitution in exchange for drugs. Exploited and otherwise alone, Candy and Joe want to find a way for her abuse to end.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
The captive of a man named Ray, Alice no longer yearns for the days before she was Alice. For five years, she has suffered at the hands of her abuser and wishes only for release from the world and the man who has caused her such pain. While Ray promises regularly that Alice is approaching her life’s end, that day never seems to come as Alice continues to endure abuse.

All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry
Returning to her village after a horrific ordeal of being kidnapped with her best friend, Judith not only has to heal her mental state, but also her physical state due to a mutilation that left her unable to speak. Though she cannot speak the horrors she experienced, Judith finds she has an enormous amount of strength that could ultimately save her community.

All the Rage by Courtney Summers
With nearly the whole town against her, Romy has opted to keep to herself after she’s sexually assaulted by the town’s golden boy. But now harm is coming to other girls in town and Romy struggles over what responsibility she does or doesn’t have.