Weekend Pick for April 21, 2023
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Dear Medusa by Olivia Cole
In Dear Medusa by Olivia Cole, sixteen-year-old Alicia Rivers discovers how quickly she has been ostracized by her school as some type of maneater; a Medusa who uses sex as a weapon. But like most people, they have forgotten that Medusa’s origin story, she begins as an ingenue raped by Poseiden and is turned into the monster by Athena for desacrating her temple…punishing the victim. Alicia is also a silent victim and in this lyrical novel - in - verse, we feel her pain with a soul crushing force created by Cole’s imagery and melodic lines. Ironically, even though Alicia is surrounded by wolves—men who act as predators and use her for sex as well as people who should protect her but have abandoned her, she also finds saviors—girls who become friends because they too are struggling with their own voice and identities. Here, Cole’s words deliver hope and the power in sisterhood when we stand up and support each other.
Cole acknowledges Laurie Halse Anderson’s groundbreaking work in tackling this important topic and helping her share Alicia’s story and ultimately her own journey in dealing with this type of pain. As we read the book, we loved the raw honesty and characters as well as the parallels to Medusa and Greek Mythology. It helped us reflect on how one cruel twist so often shapes who we become. She demonstrates that overcoming the harm done to us is not an easy walk into the sunset, but it is a journey of steps moving forward once we can step out of the darkness and see ourselves for the beauty inside us.
In the spirit of literacy and hope,
Cindi and Katie