NOVELS in verse take two forms – poetry and the novel – and draw them together. With each poem, a long-form story is advanced, with an engaging rhythm.

I was introduced to this style by its growing fame in the Young Adult world from the witty magic of these poetic authors such as Dean Atta in The Black Flamingo. In 2021, CG Moore released Gut Feelings, a full and detailed coming-of-age exploration of how it is to be diagnosed and live with chronic illness as a young person.

While an entirely separate story, this latest novel in verse from Moore seems to carry something similar – a matured and dark honesty that never ceases to feel like a necessity.

The ambiguity of the form of poetry itself – its vagueness and twists, the most simple words sticking in the mind, and metaphors slipping from, then coming back into grasp – fits this narrative’s themes perfectly.

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Trigger tells the story of a 17-year-old boy named Jay, once happy and carefree, but after having been to a club with his boyfriend Jackson the night before, he has only the memory of him leaving before everything becomes blurry, blocked by what he learns is trauma.

After being told he has been sexually assaulted – the poems are told in parts from that initial discovery to the search for justice – Jay becomes obsessed with what he does not know.

The writing handles with care, and empathetic manipulation of these two contrasting forms, the equally opposite feelings of denial and fear around the events which change us and the desperate desire for knowledge of every detail and therefore a sense of control.

While Jay handles the reactions of those around him – from best friend and family members and their protectiveness to the vicious rumours of unkind classmates – more and more details are revealed.

While there is both narrative and character satisfaction in this structure, the story of what happened to Jay and how he can stop the men involved from doing it again does not feel like a mystery.

Beyond this element, what truly matters in Trigger is a story of healing and awareness.

Loosely inspired by the writer’s own experiences, he made the choice to face something difficult and taboo, boldly pushing forward with an honesty about male mental health and sexual assault.

While toxic standards of masculinity press on with the notion that power comes from silence, Trigger is unapologetically loud. It feels like the release of a scream, and the arms of loving parents and friends wrapping you in safety all at once.

Jay’s story is one that resonates, one that does not leave. It is a truthfully messy, angry, sad, hopeful guide to the process of healing that could mean the world to any young person who has been through something like him.

It is a story which would do well in schools and sex-ed classes, but equally in the corners of bedrooms and in the hands of friends.