Keep Me Posted!

Sign me up for the latest news from Penguin Teen, including new books, special offers, and promotions.

Nothing Happened: Jenny Torres Sanchez Speaks Out During Sexual Assault Awareness Month

SHARE

In eighth grade, a man on a bicycle followed me as I jogged down the streets of my neighborhood. Halfway down the isolated road I usually avoided, I felt that tingle on the back of my neck. I looked back and saw him just off in the distance, riding slowly.

I sped up, telling myself I was being paranoid. But when I looked back, he was keeping up with me. Every few strides, I turned my head, trying to seem casual, but there he was, closing the gap while still keeping some distance.

I wanted to race home, but worried he would then know where I lived. My father was an out-of-state trucker and my mother, little brother, and I were often home at night alone. When I turned a corner and glanced back again, he was staring back at me. This time he grinned.

I panicked, but started coming up with a plan. I slowed down, walked up to a stranger’s house like it was my own, and gave him enough time to ride past me as I made my way to the front door. Then I stood there for a while before finally glancing down the street. He was riding around in a circle, lingering at the corner.

In that moment, I knew he had figured out what I was doing, and my blood ran cold as I pressed my finger to the doorbell.

I waited. Rang again. Down the street, I saw he was waiting, too.

An eternity passed as my mind raced with what to do if no one answered.

Finally an elderly woman pulled the door open slowly, looking at me strangely. I tried to explain why I rang her doorbell, but I was having trouble. I was out of breath. I was scared. A weird jumble of fear, relief, confusion, and guilt were strangling my voice. She looked down the street, but by that point, the man was gone.

The woman stared at me like she didn’t know what to do, and I was no help with my feet glued to the cement, wondering if he was hiding around the corner, waiting for me. Just then, a younger woman walked by. The old lady called out to her, and then pointed to me. This younger woman turned out to be the mother of a girl who rode my bus. She walked me home.

Stop freaking out, I remember telling myself. My vision blurred with tears I didn’t want her to see. Nothing happened.

Years later, I worked as a back-office cashier at a supermarket, where a male stock clerk repeatedly leered at me through a long window in the door. I could feel when he was there, and when I’d look back, he’d flick his tongue between two of his fingers and press himself against the glass. When I finally told an older woman I worked with about it, she told me he was harmless.

Don’t freak out, I remember telling myself this time as well. Nothing happened.

A few years after that, I got a phone call late one night when I’d just come home. A gruff voice on the other end told me he knew I’d just gotten home because he was watching me. I stayed up most of the night, double-checking doors and windows, listening for sounds. After that, when I’d come home at night, I’d rush from my car to the front door, opening it, entering my house, and closing the door behind me as quickly as possible.

Don’t freak out, I remember telling myself, yet again. Nothing happened.

The man on the bike, the guy at work, the stranger on the phone; they were not all the same person. But they were all men who felt empowered to do this. They all felt it was okay. They were all told that it was, in small and big ways, by a society that encouraged it in those same small and big ways.

Nothing happened, I’d told myself.

But something did, right? Things like this happen all the time.

In The Fall of Innocence, a story about a girl who survives a brutal attack but struggles with its rippling effects in the years that follow, I wanted to speak truth to the often constant danger that surrounds girls. And to show the lasting results of living in such an environment.

I don’t want girls to have to live in fear. I don’t want them to have to paint their nails in drug-detecting nail polish before a night out. I don’t want them to have to walk with their keys in their hands, positioned to jab at the eyes of an attacker. I don’t want them to have to be hyper-vigilant of every step, every breath they take. But this is the environment we as a society create for our girls. These are the ways we begin to oppress them.

It’s not their imagination. It’s not their fault. They’re not overreacting. And society needs to take ownership of this reality and reckon with it. And not only admit to it, but sit with that discomfort and be willing to understand the many, many ways we have failed and sacrificed girls.

This book, Emilia’s story, is my way of asking you to sit with that reality and discomfort for a while. To feel the struggle and threat of what it means to be a girl in our society.

And then to stand up for girls like Emilia. For all girls, everywhere.

 

 

Jenny Torres Sanchez is the author of The Fall of Innocence, out this June, a compulsively-readable tragedy that reminds us of the fragility of human nature. Read more and pre-order your copy here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#AuthorSpotlight

9 1/2 Things We Learned and Loved From Taylor Swift’s Miss Americana Documentary

If you found yourself deeply emotionally invested in Taylor Swift’s recent Netflix documentary, you’re not alone. And luckily, our fav YA couple IRL, Austin Siegemund-Broka & Emily Wibberley (Wibbroka, if you will) are also HUGE fans. So, they sat down to recap their top nine (and a half) things we learned (and loved) from Taylor Swift’s … Continued
See More

A Q&A with Adib Khorram

We are IN LOVE with the cover for Darius the Great Deserves Better, and it got us thinking about some questions we have both about the cover and what to expect going into book 2! Luckily, Adib Khorram was kind enough to answer our questions. Scroll down for the Q&A! A Q&A with Adib Khorram! Q: We … Continued
See More

9 Authors who absolutely cannot wait for The Beautiful!

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh is hitting shelves in just a couple of weeks, and there are a few beloved YA authors who have some early tickets to the hype train 🌹📚   From Queen Marie Lu,   To the amazing Sarah Nicole Lemon! “And to think I read it as a Word doc. I feel so … Continued
See More

12 Things to Remember About The Brilliant Death Before You Start Reading The Storm of Life

We are SO excited that The Storm of Life is officially on shelves! But in case you need a quick refresher since reading The Brilliant Death, we asked author Amy Rose Capetta to recap the major stuff! Read her recap below! 1. Teodora di Sangro is a strega. A strega is a witchy-type of person, each one with a … Continued
See More

Plotting with Rosaria Munda

If you’ve been paying attention to the goings on of YA, you’ve probably have noticed a whole lot of chatter about the amazingness that is Fireborne by Rosaria Munda. Between the dragons, political intrigue, and wildly complex relationships of characters that had our hearts absolutely aching, Rosaria Munda pretty much captivated fantasy shelves everywhere. And that’s why we decided to … Continued
See More

The first excerpt of Steel Tide…with Natalie C. Parker’s commentary!

With Seafire‘s stunning paperback glow-up now gracing shelves and Steel Tide just around the corner, it’s time for an excerpt! Not just any excerpt though…we’ve got author commentary! Natalie C. Parker is giving insider info and commentary on all things Caledonia in the first riveting (annotated!) chapter of STEEL TIDE! Find the excerpt and her notes below with … Continued
See More

Penguin Teen on Tour!

Not one, not two, but THREE internationally bestselling authors are coming together for the book tour of a lifetime! From historical fantasy, to royal intrigue, to dystopian survival, authors Marie Lu, Melissa de la Cruz, and Astrid Scholte are ready to celebrate some of 2020’s biggest books, and you’re invited! Check below to see if they’re coming … Continued
See More

Rosaria Munda’s Fantasy Book Recs!

Fireborne is Rosaria Munda’s thrilling fantasy debut. In case you’re new to this Game of Thrones meets Harry Potter fantasy you’ve always needed in your life story, here’s a bit about the book! About Fireborne: Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing … Continued
See More

5 Life Lessons from Netflix’s CHEER

Author Jennifer Iacopelli of Break the Fall, like us, is a HUGE fan of Netflix’s addictive new original: CHEER. So, we asked her to share her top five takeaways! Here are 5 life lessons from Netflix’s CHEER.   Try New Things   Take a page out of Gabi Butler’s book and don’t be afraid to try something … Continued
See More

Welcome to the We Are YA Podcast!

YA books are longer than 280 characters. Conversations about YA should be too. Welcome to the We Are YA podcast! Over 7 episodes, host Anna Borges will be talking all all things YA with the amazing authors that make up the modern YA community. Here is where you can find additional information and links to each episode! … Continued
See More
BACK TO TOP