Word in Baton Rouge is that Athena Graves’ younger sister got an abortion over the summer.
Named after powerful women in Greek mythology, the Graves sisters could not be more different. Athena is a gifted student with dyed red hair and a love for punk-rock music. Helen, a blonde beauty, loves fashion and Pearl Jam—a band Athena deems so mainstream. Helen’s anti-abortion stance makes her a better fit for their Catholic high school than aspiring riot grrrl Athena. But when a rumor spreads that Helen got an abortion after sleeping with a racist classmate, Athena, with the help of fellow abortion-rights advocate Melissa, works to save Helen from being expelled. Athena believes mean girl Leah started the rumor, but Leah’s football-star boyfriend, Sean, comes to her defense. And soon after Athena starts dating cute Kyle, Leah sets her sights on him too. Sympathetic Athena honestly struggles to get justice for her sister while upholding her core beliefs in the face of a strongly conservative community. Beyond the abortion debate, this provides a necessary focus on the importance of young women supporting one another across differences. Echoing the punk-rock feminist movement of the early ’90s, debut author Keenan creates a timely narrative that will challenge teens to reflect on their personal values and engage in respectful discourse. Main characters are white apart from Melissa, who is half Vietnamese and half Cajun, and Sean, who is black.
A must-read. (Fiction. 12-18)