Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
What To Read Next: Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Entitled Speak, this novel says volumes despite the paralyzing silence of its main character, Melinda. The summer before her freshman year, Melinda attends a party where a popular upperclassman rapes her while she's drunk. The following school year, she deals with post traumatic stress disorder, refuses to talk to her friends and family, and slowly builds up the courage to be herself again.
The importance of this novel is impossible to underestimate. It's one of the most frank discussion of rape in YA fiction. Anderson received thousands of letters from readers confiding in her that this had happened to them, too. Speak is an invitation so have a conversation that, as a culture, we aren't comfortable with. And, just as importantly, it asks that we not dismiss the victims.