cover image Etched on Me

Etched on Me

Jenn Crowell. Washington Square, $15 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4767-3906-9

Crowell’s (Necessary Madness) latest novel deftly portrays Lesley Holloway, a 16-year-old victim her father’s sexual abuse. After reporting him to authorities, Lesley attends an exclusive school in London on scholarship while staying in transitional housing. Lesley begins cutting as a way to control her pain and lands in protective care, where she temporarily abandons school for group therapy. She finds solace in her roommate, Clare, and the two embark on a tenuous return to normalcy within the confines of the psychiatric facility at which they’re staying. A sudden incident thrusts Lesley back into the outside world where she is unable to cope on her own. After another stay at another treatment center, she is prepared to move forward: “And so I became a concrete mixer, pouring the foundation of a new life down.” She attends college while managing to avoid a relapse but faces problems after she becomes pregnant at 21. Crowell creates a realistic heroine and solid supporting cast to balance out this narrative of pain and loss. (Feb.)