A long time ago, probably around the time I was in middle school, I went to the book store, like my family and I usually do. During this particular trip, I found a book titled Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I picked it up to read the synopsis:
“Melinda Sordino busted an -end -of-summer party by calling the cops, so her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t know hate her from a distance. It’s no use explaining to her parents; they’ve never known what her life is really like. The safest place for Melinda is to be alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she admitted it and let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have no choice. Melinda would have to speak the truth.”
I thought the book itself was pretty (it’s the platinum edition), and the premise was interesting, so I decided to take it home with me to read. I was caught up in the story right away. Melinda’s story is compelling, and I was rooting for her the entire story, excited when she finally found her voice and was able to tell the truth about what happened to her the previous summer. I also thought that the writing style of the book, and the layout of the book as far as how the chapters and sections of the book were divided was different than anything I had read up to that point. It’s a book that I’ve read a multiple times (and now considering another re-read, since it’s been awhile), and when I found out that there was a movie, I watched it on YouTube.
If you have not read Speak you need to do so RIGHT NOW.
Fast forward a few years, to present day me (alright, fast forward about 10+ years). I was at work, talking to one of my coworkers, when she brought up Speak. She had just finished reading it, and was telling me how emotional she was when Melinda’s secret is revealed. We both gushed about the book for a few minutes, and later that night after I had returned home from work, I decided to see if Laurie Halse Anderson had published anything recently that I hadn’t read yet.
That’s when I found Shout.
For my birthday last week, my boyfriend took me shopping (which means I ended up with some books 😂), and I saw Shout sitting there on the shelf, and I just had to get it. I slid it into my hands, admiring the beautiful cover design as excitement bubbled up within me. However, I was in the middle of reading another book, so it wasn’t until a few days later, that I finally got around to reading it. I finished it a couple days after I started, and wow, what a read. I don’t really know what else to say besides that.
If you don’t know what Shout is about, it’s basically a Laurie Halse Anderson’s memoir told through a series of poems. It mainly focuses on her struggle of growing up after being raped at thirteen, and how that affected the rest of her life. She talks about her family struggles, Speak, the stories she heard about other survivors, and so on. It was beautifully written, with a haunting prose that LHA pulls off so well.
One part of Shout that I found interesting is when she discusses the how schools censor Speak by not allowing it in their libraries, or even one specific incident where a principal had the fire alarm go off after her first assembly, when she was scheduled to do more that day. When they were standing in the fields, waiting for the “all clear”, a group of several girls came up to Laurie Halse Anderson, telling her about all the times the boys at school have touched them or get girls drunk on the weekends to rape them. Finally, the alarm is silenced, and the principal goes up to Laurie Halse Anderson to tell her that the rest of her assemblies were canceled for the day.
Here’s the exact passage from the book:
Speak and Shout help give a voice to those who may be afraid to say anything, and lets them know that they are not alone. Shout also gives great insight into the life of a woman who has had to face some terrible things in her life, but still manages to live and thrive in her life. It is a memoir that not only tells the life of Laurie Halse Anderson, but also gives a sense of hope and purpose to those who read it. As she wrote in the introduction of Shout, “This is the story of a girl who lost her voice and wrote herself a new one.”
Thank you, Laurie Halse Anderson for writing such beautiful, haunting stories that are important for the world to read.
On that note, I hope you all have a lovely rest of your week, and I will see you Friday with a new post.
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