Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf

Razorbill. Oct. 2020. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593114117.
Gr 9 Up–“Have you ever seen a god fall?” Sean Nessel: soccer star, the most popular boy in school, and the object of every girl’s desire. Sean gets everything he wants. He deserves it. He expects it. He’s a god. Ali Greenleaf: quiet, sweet, kind of shy, and she has always had a crush on Sean. Blythe Jensen: popular, beautiful, confident, and extremely intimidating. And she’s Sean’s best friend. One night at a party, Ali finally decides to make her move on Sean, and things go farther than she wanted them to. After, Sean enlists his pal Blythe to befriend Ali in order to smooth things over. As Ali and Blythe form their own friendship and seem to bond over their different but shared experiences of sexual assault, it is revealed that they may have more in common than they expected. Their friendship, flawed as it is, explores the many complexities of sexual assault and how it affects girls everywhere. The social politics of the school further complicate these traumas and it becomes clear that everyone is part of the story. After internally struggling with her assault for most of the book, Ali finally decides to speak up, finding her voice and her strength. Though sensitive teens may have a hard time reading about the graphic nature of Ali’s and Blythe’s experiences with sexual assault, Ali’s internal struggles after the fact, and teen bullying, these are feelings that many can relate to, and therefore this is an important read for teens.
VERDICT A powerful and important addition to YA books on the topic of sexual assault. Recommended for high school and public libraries everywhere.

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