When does a red plastic cup become the same as a scarlet letter ? When a young college girl is photographed holding that red cup at a party while wearing an appealing Halloween costume. This is the trigger point for Nor's younger sister, Em.
This book deserves to be on reading lists for high school since it provides excellent opportunities for discussion. Something that I liked was the author's succeess in eliciting the emotions of the situation while providing a realistic presentation of a sexual assault case School newspaper staff writer Em stirs up a controversy with her profiles of sexual assault victims while dealing with the shock and sorrow of what has happened to Nor. The title of the book is very fitting and hints at the anger Em feels towards those who sympathize with Craig, the boy who assaulted, and moan the damaging effect on his future.
In addition to the drama of a good YA story, the author includes the historic context of words and phrases which have become a way to demean women and denigrate a female's reputation. For example, in Chapter Two, first-person-narrator Em points out that "hussy" used to be a neutral term for a female head of household. Readers can almost feel the way strength and control and power in a female (even if forced upon the female through death of a partner or spouse) start to morph into derogatory words.
This book is a feminist response to sexual assault; it is powerful and unique since Em begins to find some healing as she write poetry about a strong Medieval female legend.