A young woman is sexually abused by a close family friend in this latest novel in verse from veteran poet Sones (Saving Red, 2016, etc.).
Fourteen-year-old Lily has long harbored a crush on her father’s friend Luke and is thrilled to learn that he is going to stay with her family upon his return from a research trip to Kenya. She fervently hopes that he’ll see she is no longer a little kid, “Now / I feel more like a butterfly— / a butterfly who can’t decide / which wings to wear.” Initially, Lily is thrilled when he seems to be returning her interest, but this gives way to palpable dread and shame as he pushes her into progressively more threatening situations. Factors that often play into sexual abuse emerge within this harrowing story, including Luke’s grooming of Lily from a young age and his use of threats to keep her from telling anyone. She becomes isolated from her best friends, Rose and Taylor, and she is already accustomed to her father’s hurtful emotional absence from her life. While realistic, these details sometimes feel a bit rote. All of the main characters seem to be white by default; Luke is English, Taylor is gay, and a caring teacher of Lily’s is described as having brown skin.
A quick moving and emotionally charged but ultimately underdeveloped novel that explores an important subject. (Verse novel. 14-18)