Genre: Young Adult Poetry
Pages: Print 304
Release Date: March 12, 2019
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. The copy used for this review was a copy I purchased on my own. The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the publisher or author. Please note I share a piece of my personal experience with sexual assault merely to emphasize how this book resonated with me and how I feel connected to the storyline.
Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she’s never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society’s failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #metoo and #timesup, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice– and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore.
I purchased a copy of this book because it is my most anticipated read of 2019. I connected with the main character in Speak and wanted to read her poetic memoir. I was expecting nothing less of raw emotions, honesty, and empowerment. It’s hard to review a memoir due to it merely being about the author’s life. You can only review the writing style and look at it from an editorial purpose only. I kept this in mind when reading this memoir.
Overall I thought this was a well written, compelling, poetic memoir that provided insight on the challenges faced by this author. After reading this, I understand what an emotional obstacle it is to write about something so real. I understand the true emotional turmoil of reliving the same day over and over again and trying to find ways to cope. The author takes a unique approach to tell the story of her life in three parts. The first part of the book talks about her mother, father, and sister — this where we learn of the rape that leads her to create the characters in Speak. We also learn how she coped with the struggles of her parent’s marriage, the ghosts of her fathers past, and the rape that shattered her from within. The author delves into the relationship between her parents, her schooling, and her ghosts. In part two, we take a journey on how she spoke about Speak in schools. We learn that some schools tried to censor her book, saying that a book about sexual assault did not belong in a school. Halse Anderson wanted to share this book with everyone, to promote the concept of consent, and to be a voice for those who were afraid. We learn about how she created the character names in the novel and the challenges she faced while writing it. In part three we learn the fate of her parents and the closing remarks.
This book focuses on the challenges of being a victim of sexual assault and how one story can touch many. Halse Anderson showcases that there are many people out there with a story to share afraid to speak up. She highlights the injustices associated with being a victim of rape. One of my favorite quotes from the book is:
study that number,
and no matter what it is,
because no, my friend.
you are not overreacting
not one bit.
It is hard to forgive yourself and try to move on because the ghost from your past still haunt you. I recommend this book for any teen but be mindful for any victim of sexual assault; this may contain some trigger words. I had to put the book down a few times to take a break before I could complete it. To anyone battling the demons of your past, it will get better, and it’s not your fault. Some moments I still feel like that six-year-old girl watching her favorite cartoon on the television. In the moments those memories resurface, I take a deep breath and try to come back to the present. To the author, you did a fantastic job with this book and your others, and I say #metoo Laurie Halse Anderson.
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Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!
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