The opposite of innocence
is not sin. Dearly beloved,
the opposite of innocence
Do you remember the first time you read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson? For me it was after I saw Kristen Stewart in a role that I’ll forever hold as why I love Kristen Stewart as an actress. Speak is a book every student should read so they can understand, if they need, that they are not alone.
*Blogger’s note: I did this as an audiobook, so I don’t know the poetry breaks unfortunately. I apologize for any errors, and after I get to a physical copy, I will correct what I can.
**Blogger’s note two: If you don’t know what the book Speak is about, major CW for rape, sexual assault, drug usage, suicidal feelings.
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Published Date: March 2019
Read Date: April 2019
Genre: Memoir, Poetry
Rating: 5/5 Moose
25 years after releasing Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson is now shouting out at the culture that hasn’t changed, even as we slowly make steps to perhaps finally do so. A memoir in free verse, with rants, frustration, and revelations on the topic that both inspired the book and what came after, Laurie Halse Anderson is using her voice again to call for action.
Rants, Raves, and Thoughts
I am ridiculously tearing up as I write this review. I’m not entirely sure why, other than every time I have to write a review on a book involving this topic, I break down into tears. I don’t remember when I read Speak the first time, except that it was after the movie brought the book to my attention. My senior year of high school? In college? Either way, I have only read it once, but think about it often.
What I’ve never sat to think about is what society expects from you when you write something this powerful. Anderson discusses going to visit schools to talk about sexual assault and harassment with teenagers, and yet the teachers and school boards still try to censor her, or get her to tone it down. But the teens? Oh god, the teens need her as an outlet. So many use her as a confessional, or as a therapist to help convince themselves they didn’t cross a line. Anderson discusses how adults — a janitor or even crew members of the movie — came up to her to thank her for giving them a voice. It’s powerful and it’s horrible. But it’s unfortunately necessary. And thankfully, she’s willing to be this outlet for so many people. It doesn’t weigh her down like so many would expect.
How can Anderson get into the mind of Melinda? This book is Anderson’s own release in a way. She writes about her own assault, that one horrible moment she and so many have shared, and even worse, far too young. But unlike Melinda, Anderson didn’t have a chance to face her attacker or find a way to make peace prior to him dying. I’m not sure which is worse, but Anderson’s spiral into drugs and ways of coping are completely understandable. It seems a few reviewers don’t particularly like this section of the book as much, but it is so necessary to understand this part of Anderson’s part. It isn’t something she’s just writing about, it’s something she has had to live through and live with. I don’t think someone can “get past” something so traumatic, but Anderson has definitely saved so many with her words.
We should teach our girls that snapping is ok, instead of waiting for someone else to break them.
We have to talk about censorship. We have to talk about consent. We have to talk about these awful things that happen without shaming the victims. We have to become more understanding, more empathetic, more open to sharing. We have to understand that this can happen to anyone. Anderson has bared her soul for the second time in twenty years. She’s older, wiser, and still just as frustrated and angry at what hasn’t changed and why this is still necessary.
Auntie Laurie says follow your nightmares instead
Because when you figure out what’s eating you alive
you can slay it
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