Reminiscent of Melinda in Speak, Alexi tries to find her voice after being raped.
Only the self-inflicted scratches on the 16-year-old’s neck reveal any sign that someone close to her coerced her into having sex at a football party. Now Alexi is “faking normal” to protect the perpetrator and try to keep the event in the past. But socially awkward Bodee, aka “Kool-Aid Kid” for his penchant for temporary hair coloring, knows she has a secret—because he has one too. After his abusive father kills his mother, he’s invited to finish the school year at Alexi’s home. As a tentative friendship blossoms, Alexi and Bodee become allies—and more—as they help each other deal with their life-changing traumas and face recovery together. Stevens’ debut effort keeps it real and never preachy as Alexi and her BFFs question their sexuality and relationship expectations. Even more realistic are Alexi’s reactions to the rape as she wonders why she couldn’t utter the word no, whether a rape actually occurred and how her family will react. The perpetrator’s identity, confounded by plenty of red herrings, remains a mystery until the very end. Also adding mystery and romantic intrigue is the clandestine “Captain Lyric,” who corresponds and seems to acknowledge Alexi’s pain through covert song lyrics left on a school desk.
A story that resonates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)