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Shelf Care at The Blue Bench: August Reading List

Welcome to the Shelf Care reading list by The Blue Bench! Every month, we curate a reading list of books showcasing powerful voices and talented storytelling. These books delve into topics related to sexual assault, identity, trauma, healing, hope, community, and resilience.

The books highlighted in this month’s list are young adult books, just in time for back to school. [TW/CW: These books may contain topics related to sexual assault, domestic violence, drug use, racism, violence, eating disorders, school violence, cyberbullying, and other topics that may be triggering]

We are adding a special book every month, a banned book of the month. Books depicting sexual violence often get placed on banned book lists. We believe that silencing authors who’ve written about sexual violence perpetuates stigmas around the issue.


By Jennifer Mathieu

This book centers Vivian Carter, a Texas teen who is fed up with the way that her high school treats the football team with a “boys will be boys” attitude. She becomes fed up with the hallway harassment and sexist dress codes. Inspired by her mother’s Riot Grrrl past, Viviane creates a feminist zine and anonymously distributes it to her classmates, and sparks a unity amongst the girls in her high school.

Jennifer Mathieu is a former journalist currently living in Texas. She is a writer and English teacher. She writes mostly contemporary young adult fiction.


By Maria Padian

This novel dives into the aftermath of an assault on a college campus, when everyone has a different version of what happened. The roommate of the survivor and the best friend of the accused find themselves at opposite ends of the story. This book dives into how witnesses and allies in sexual assault cases—and how speaking up ad being an active bystander is an important way to end rape culture.

Maria Padian is a freelance writer, essayist, and journalist. Her debut novel, Brett McCarthy: Work in Progress, was a chosen by the ALA and YALSA as one of the Best Books for Young Adults.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

By Stephen Chbosky

This novel is written as a series of letters written by the 15-year-old protagonist Charlie as he navigates struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder he experiences after the suicide of his only middle school friend and the death of his aunt. This novel explores complicated friendships, drug use, LGBT identity, struggles with sexual abuse, and coming-of-age. Chbosky wrote this book as being semi-autobiographical, as some of the events and people are based on things that he experienced.

Stephen Chbosky is an American screenwriter, novelist, producer, and director. He is best known for Perks of Being a Wallflower, as well as for writing and directing the 2012 film adaptation of the book.

Asking For It

By Louise O’Neill

This novel follows the story of Emma O’Donovan, an eighteen year old living in a small town in Ireland. One night, she attends a party, and wakes up the next night not knowing what had happened to her, she only knows she’s in pain. She learns through social media that she was sexually assaulted. The book follows her journey dealing with the aftermath of the assault.

Louise O’Neill is an Irish children and young adult author. She has won the Irish Book Awards. Asking For It was a number-one bestseller in Ireland and was named Irish Times Book of the Month in September 2015.


By Tiffany D. Jackson

This mystery/thriller surrounds the main character Enchanted Jones, who dreams of being a singer. When a legendary R&B artist discovers Enchanted’s talent, he grooms her and begins an abusive relationship with her. When the R&B star winds up dead, all clues lead to Enchanted.

Tiffany D. Jackson is a New York Times Bestselling Author of several young adult novels. She received her bachelor’s degree from Howard University and her masters from New School.

Banned Book of the Month


By Laurie Halse Anderson

This book follows freshman Melinda, who has become a friendless outcast because she called the police on an end-of-summer party, and now no one will listen to her or talk to her. She becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only through art is she able to process what happened to her at the party—she was sexually assaulted. This powerful novel has been placed on banned and challenged books list throughout the United States because it “contains a political viewpoint" and "isolates male students."

Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times Bestselling author, known for writing about sensitive topics for teens and young adults. She has had two books, including Speak, on the National Book Award finalist list. She has been honored by the National Coalition Against Censorship and the National Council of Teachers of English for pushing censorship boundaries.

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