Sunday, September 19, 2010

Speak Loudly

Speak is a life-changing book written by Laurie Halse Anderson about a high school girl "who chooses not to speak rather than to give voice to what really happened to her." I'm not exaggerating when I say this is one of the most important books I've ever read - both as a reader and a writer. It frustrates me that I don't have the words to tell you how amazing this book is. I encourage you to read it, no matter your age.

Now, an ignorant Missouri man is leading a charge to get this booked removed from the curriculum of Republic, MO schools. You can read his article here and the author's response here.

Here's what he says about the book:
One such book is called "Speak." They also watch the movie. This is a book about a very dysfunctional family. Schoolteachers are losers, adults are losers and the cheerleading squad scores more than the football team. They have sex on Saturday night and then are goddesses at church on Sunday morning. The cheer squad also gets their group-rate abortions at prom time. As the main character in the book is alone with a boy who is touching her female parts, she makes the statement that this is what high school is supposed to feel like. The boy then rapes her on the next page. Actually, the book and movie both contain two rape scenes.

Reading this, you might agree with removing the book from the curriculum, right? That's the problem. He is ENTIRELY misrepresenting the book. In fact, I'm pretty sure he hasn't even read it. How many Republic-area parents are going to read this and take him at his word because he's a professor?

This is a book about a girl dealing with the after-effects of being raped at a high school party. Her classmates hate her because they think she called the cops on the party for no reason. She has to face her rapist every day at school. It, in no way, glorifies teen sex and the rape scenes are NOT pornographic.

What it is, however, is life-changing. It's a 'safe' way to discuss with teenagers the very real and ever-present threat of rape. Now, I know that perfectly reasonable people are going to be wary of allowing their kids to read about the topic of rape.

I understand that.

But there's something you need to understand: Every two minutes, someone in the US is sexually assaulted. We can't pretend it doesn't exist anymore because it does exist and American children are surrounded by it. Insisting teens are ignorant about the subject is NOT going to protect them from it. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

Countless teens (and adults) have been touched, changed, evolved, healed and transformed by this book. Please, I beg of you, watch this video. If you can hear real teens' responses to this book and not be moved.... well, I'll pray for you.

While they don't live there anymore, both of my parents' families are from Republic. Both my parents went to school there. My cousins went to school there. If you're from this area (or, even if you're not) and would like to SPEAK out against this ridiculous censorship, please submit a letter to the editor of the News-Leader and write to the superintendent and school principal.

Other Resources:

One Final Thought...

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Martin Niemöller


  1. I actually remember the first time I saw a rape scene on TV, and it was because I was watching what my sister was watching (Beverly Hills 90210, actually), and it made it hard for me to sleep that night. So, I'm all for being sensitive to what your kid can handle, but you also can't protect them forever-- they will hear about it/see it represented eventually. I wish that I'd had a better way to be exposed to it, and I think this book could give us all a way to do that with young people. Great post!