Sixteen-year-old Amina Conteh has always believed in using her tongue as her weapon—even when it gets her into trouble. After cursing at a classmate, her father forces her to volunteer at their church with Pastor Johnson.
But Pastor Johnson isn’t the holy man everyone thinks he is.
The same voice Amina uses to fight falls quiet the night she is sexually assaulted by Pastor Johnson. After that, her life starts to unravel: her father is frustrated that her grades are slipping, and her best friend and boyfriend don’t understand why the once loud and proud girl is now quiet and distant. In a world that claims to support survivors, Amina wonders who will support her when her attacker is everyone's favorite community leader.
When Pastor Johnson is arrested for a different crime, the community is shaken and divided; some call him a monster and others defend him. But Amina is secretly relieved. She no longer has to speak because Pastor Johnson can't hurt her anymore–or so she believes.
To regain her voice and sense of self, Amina must find the power to confront her abuser—in the courtroom and her heart—and learn to use all the fighting parts within her.
With special guests from Baltimore City Youth Poetry Team!
Hannah V. Sawyerr was recognized as the Youth Poet Laureate of Baltimore in 2016. Her spoken word has been featured on the BBC’s World Have Your Say program, as well as the National Education Association’s “Do You Hear Us?” campaign. Her written word has been included in gal-dem, Rookie, and xoNecole. She holds a BA in English from Morgan State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. Sawyerr is an English professor at Loyola Marymount University and lives in Los Angeles, California.