Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
Published by Viking on March 12th, 2019
Genres: Poetry, Memoir
“Censorship is the child of fear
the father of ignorance
and the desperate weapon of fascists everywhere.”
Don’t hate me, but I’ve never read Speak. It’s been on my list for ages! It just kept getting bumped down on my TBR as I kept adding more books that I wanted to read.
But Anderson is coming to Toronto for an event and I really wanted to go so I figured I should read her latest book first!
Shout is a poetry memoir where 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. It’s an important memoir post-#MeToo and post-#TimesUp as a denouncement of our society’s failures. But it’s also a love letter to those who have the courage to speak up about what they’ve suffered through at the hands of others.
I find it very difficult to read and to review these kinds of books because of the subject matter.
But it’s so important to educate yourself on the matter especially since there’s still so much work to be done.
For me, part one was a solid 3.5-4 read for me. I felt like it dragged a bit, but part two and three are where Anderson’s writing shines.
But the highlight of part one was when she talked about how toxic and misogynistic it was in the 1970s. Women had to shut up, be gentle, be kind, and never ask questions. She sets this up as how she experienced life at home within her family, but also within society. It silenced her voice when she needed to speak up the most.
In part two and three, she brings rage and unapologetic ruthlessness to the issue of sexual abuse, rape, and the disgusting way society treats women (and men) who find the courage to speak up.
If you’re a survivor or not, this is an important book. Anderson sets up an example of finding her voice twenty-some years later to open up and speak up, without shame, about what happened to her.
It’s interesting that it’s her memoir, but the book isn’t solely focused on her trauma and her healing process. She highlights how she’s met with over a million teens, talked with survivors, shared their pain, and more importantly, listened to them.
What struck me most was the section where she discussed the importance of education. Young women and men need to be part of a discussion. But her book has been banned in so many books.
Children have to face constant barriers when trying to understand their bodies, sex, and consent. I couldn’t believe teachers were trying to cancel her talks, and ban her books from libraries, just because she spoke candidly about her experiences.
What I remembered most about middle school and high school was having separate talks for young girls and boys when it came to sex. Kids of all genders need to listen and learn about each other’s bodies!
They’re essential if we’re going to put an end to what happened to Anderson, Melinda in Speak, and to others. It’s not a book just for adults, it’s for everyone.
*On a side note, if you’re interested in learning more about rape culture, I highly recommend Asking For It by Kate Harding.*
Also, shout out to my library for all these amazing reads this month! Being on bookstagram and being a book blogger, there definitely is a pressure to have a “insta-worthy book collection.” But never forget that the library is another option to get books!