Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

fullsizeoutput_15ebGenre: Young Adult Poetry
Pages: Print 304
Release Date: March 12, 2019
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Rating: ★★★★★

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. 

Goodreads Synopsis

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.

Final Thoughts

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,

forgive yourself

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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The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

img_2886Title:The Poet X 
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo 
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: Print 357
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from @KidLitExchange #partner in exchange for my honest review. Thanks again to @KidLitExchange  #partner for access to review a free copy of this book! The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or KidLitExchange. The  copy used in this review is an uncorrected copy from Epic Reads.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.

So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

Favorite Quotes:

“Their gazes are words are heavy with all the things they want you to be.”

“It is ungrateful to feel like a burden. It is ungrateful to resent my own birth.”

“….she should be remembered as always working to become the warrior she wanted to be.”

“If I were nothing but dust would anyone chase the wind trying to piece me back together?”

Final Thoughts: 

The Poet X is a compelling young adult novel written about the challenges faced by a young Xiomara. In a world that never hears her, she must find her voice and speak up. Xiomara and her twin brother are seen as their parent’s gift from God. Her parent’s struggled to have children, and the twins were their miracle. The two have to live up to the high expectations of their mother and the lack of awareness from their father.

Growing up in a Catholic household, Xiomara is taught not only the ways of her Catholic mother. She is continuously scolded when she breaks any rules. She learns to explore her feelings for the opposite sex while trying not to get caught. She experiences her first love, shares her first kiss, and hides a secret about her brother. Mami continues to put immense pressure on Xiomara, expecting her uphold to a high set of standards or be punished. X continues to be exploited solely for her looks instead of for her intelligence or words. Her only place of solace in the poetry club at her school. Her English teacher encourages her to apply for the poetry slam in the upcoming months. Xiomara expresses her feelings through her poetry until one day she goes mute after a terrible thing between her and her mother. Can she ever forgive her mother? Will her mother ever accept her? How long can she keep Twin’s secret?

Overall, I thought this was a great novel, and I enjoyed the relationship between Xiomara and her English teacher. I like the concept that teachers have a significant influence on students. It is always great to read about teachers encouraging their students. I think the author did a great job with the writing of this book and I enjoyed the poetry format. I felt more connected with each character as the emotions were eloquently displayed. I recommend this book to young adults between the ages of thirteen and up. I had a teen ask about poetry books recently, and I suggested this book.

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