cover image After the Ink Dries

After the Ink Dries

Cassie Gustafson, illus. by Emma Vieceli. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-5344-7369-0

The night after a party, new student Erica Walker wakes up in the host’s bedroom—her bra is missing, and her body is markered with boys’ names and slut-shaming comments. The guys involved play lacrosse with her boyfriend, Thomas, and the party’s host is her best friend Caylee’s boyfriend. Ashamed and confused, Erica, who’s white (like all the primary characters), heads home, initially hoping that Thomas wasn’t involved and that Caylee will offer support—hopes that are soon dashed. The events of the following week are narrated by both Erica, who’s new to the area and doesn’t feel like she fits in, and Thomas, an aspiring musician struggling to please his domineering father. Gustafson’s debut doesn’t pull punches; the book is open about Erica’s suicidal ideation, the male chauvinism Thomas is steeped in, and the bullying both experience. Vieceli’s graphic novel panels represent the superhero comic that Erica draws, and pages featuring her heroine appear as she tries to channel bravery to speak the truth and hold her abusers accountable. The quickly paced ending feels abrupt following the characters’ lengthy, detailed remembrances of the incident, but this all-too-believable book will open eyes and start conversations about sexual assault, toxic masculinity, and victim shaming. Age 14–up. Author’s agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. [em](July) [/em]