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Mean is a book of ghosts, a series of refrains and recollections, a memoir that is also a true-crime narrative, written in a voice that is sharp and poetic, that gets underneath the skin. It is also a book of guilt and responsibility, a book of reckoning. Gurba connects the sexual assault she experienced as an undergraduate with the rape and murder of another woman by the same assailant to frame a pointed investigation of misogyny, identity, and class. In the process, she reminds us of the need to speak for those who cannot speak any longer, as well as the need to speak for ourselves.
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