Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: The Sharp Edge of Silence by Cameron Kelly Rosenblum

  • The Sharp Edge of Silence
  • by Cameron Kelly Rosenblum
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
  • Release date: April 11, 2023
  • ISBN: 9780062932105

“Who will you be at Lycroft Phelps?” is the question posed to three students–Charlotte, Max, and Quinn–and each student with whom Dean Frye corresponds, but it is these three around whom this story revolves. Charlotte is a gifted ballerina and choreographer. She is most well known for dating Sebastian “Seb” McNeilly, the “genetic miracle” who also seems completely besotted with her–even as he must mysteriously cancel plans that both of them seem to be looking forward to.  Max is a scholarship student who becomes an unlikely coxswain for the Varsity 1 boy’s crew team, and in so doing, is invited to join “Slycroft” a secret society created as a rebellion against the admittance of girls to the school. Once limited to porn and pranks, Slycroft now has a tradition of setting bounties on the female attendees, and members take the girls’ panties as evidence of sexual conquest. Quinn is a legacy student who is determined to kill Colin Pearce, the Slycroft Lord of the Book. Quinn’s ingenuity at obtaining a security guard’s gun and a chance meeting with Charlotte who has discovered the Slycroft clubhouse brings Quinn’s motive into sharp relief and sets into motion an investigation and revenge plot that could tarnish the stellar reputation of Lycroft Phelps.

Told from the perspectives of Quinn, Charlotte, and Max, and supplemented with letters and emails between Lycroft Phelps faculty and administration, this is a deep dive into the bowels of rape culture and its effect on victims.  The circumstances surrounding Quinn’s rape include her own use of alcohol and the initial consensual nature of the encounter. The aftermath, including self-harm and rage at her feelings of powerlessness and the inevitability of Colin escaping any accountability for the attack, are realistically portrayed.  Author Cameron K. Rosenblum explores the varying levels of participation by each of the key male players. What could easily become male-bashing, instead, is a nuanced exploration of peer pressure and the need to stand against the elements that make rape culture possible. From start to finish, The Sharp Edge of Silence has a solidly paced plot with characters who have believable interests and motivations.  Language denigrating the female population at the school is accurately portrayed despite how difficult it can be to read. The sexual bounty, expectation for “bros” to fit a specific kind of sexual behavior, and hotness correlations are immediately recognizable by teens who have stumbled into them.  All of the elements combine to create an important story that celebrates justice and the reclamation of one’s bodily autonomy.

The alternating first person narration gives this an appeal for any teen who prefers gritty, hopeful slice-of-life stories. You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow, The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg, and The Secrets We Keep by Cassie Gustafson all deal with varying shades of sexual assault and the healing that comes from naming the trauma and getting help.

 -Jodi Kruse

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: January 24, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.
The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link: