Sunday, September 19, 2010

Speaking Up for SPEAK

If you're on Twitter, you're probably familiar with the controversy surrounding Laurie Halse Anderson's beautiful book SPEAK, the story of a girl who slowly goes silent after she is raped. I wanted to speak out myself about the importance of this story. I feel like I have a responsibility as a writer, as someone who suffered in silence, and as a Christian to take a stand on this issue.

First, this book helped change me.

I won't say it saved my life, because I was past that crisis when I read Speak, but the book deeply moved me and taught me and healed me all the same. It told a story that I had a part in. A story about marginalized people who are dying inside silently even as they are judged and misunderstood by those around them. It said things I couldn't say. And reading it changed me--this book made me stronger.

There are only a few books I can say that about. Speak is one of them. I have spent most of my life in pieces, and every once in a while I read a book that puts a few more of the fragments back together for me, a book that's like a window into a dark room or a hand reaching out to me in a crowd.

Speak is that kind of a book.

Censorship angers me anyway, but I am a devout Christian believer and the fact that this man is trying to ban this book in the name of God and my faith deeply saddens me. (I'll be honest and admit it doesn't surprise me, but it saddens me.)

This blog post isn't going to turn into a raw description of the horrors I experienced in regards to my own personal issues. I'm not ready to go there. I just wanted to say that the words of Laure Halse Anderson and provided such healing and such release for me--Wintergirls as well as Speak. It's not just about rape or eating disorders or specific things like that. These books speak out about being so hurt and torn and beaten down and lost and weak and silent that you don't know how to even cry out for help.

Speak has given abused, hurting, and silent teens a voice.

Veronica Roth says it so beautifully on her blog that I wanted to include an excerpt here. She says,

"The world is broken. No matter how much time you spend covering your eyes, and covering your children's eyes, the world will still be broken when you uncover them. And when I say the world is broken, I mean that bad crap is happening to people everywhere and people are doing terrible things everywhere. Do you want your kids to understand just how beautiful the grace of God is? Then they have to understand how crappy the world is. It's not just "a good idea." It's necessary."

All I can say to that is AMEN.

I wonder what Bible this fellow is reading, because it surely isn't mine. The Bible depicts a lot of brutal and hard things, sir. It doesn't shy away from the horrible, disgusting things that happen out there in a fallen, messed up world. You may want to cover your eyes and pretend it doesn't happen, but I can't. And I won't.

I've included links to the blog posts of two other lovely fellow writers who articulate all of this much much better than I do here:

C.J.'s post

Myra's post


  1. I don't know all the details of this, but it sounds sexist, actually. Ugh.

  2. Yeah ... I get how you see that. I'm sure it's not the man's intention, but it almost comes across that way.

  3. My heart shattered for her when I read CJ's blog earlier today. We have to keep talking - have to make everyone aware of this kind of hideous problem. Kids should be safe. Period.

  4. @Jemi Yes, she told her story so beautifully and courageously. I was deeply moved. I'm so proud of her for speaking out.

  5. as a christian, i find it frustrating when people of faith get so tied up in legalism that they lose their ability to empathize and love others. first and foremost Jesus taught love for everyone. compassion- that should be the christian way... not judgement.
    i've never heard of speak before, but the premise sounds moving, and like a book that many young women need to read. the silence associated with rape is like a prison. and it sounds like this man is just trying to prolong the silence... to promote a culture of looking the other way.
    so sad. thanks for informing us! and i'll be adding this book to my to-read list! :)

  6. @aspiring_x Exactly! Even if you disagree with what a book says, instead of banning it, discuss it! Use it as a jumping-off point for dialogue and growth and learning! I don't understand this sort of blind censorship.

    I recommend all Laurie Halse Anderson's books, but Speak is especially beautiful. I wept.

  7. This Scroggins idiot made me so angry. He is more upset about the idea of young people reading about rape than experiencing it first-hand, and instead of raising awareness of the real issues addressed, he would rather hide the book because that way he doesn't have to think about things that make him uncomfortable.

  8. @Katie Yes, and as people suppress books that talk about tough issues, I fear they often perpetuate ignorance about those issues and they forget how to help people going through them. I've seen this firsthand.

  9. I randomly stubmled upon this quite belatedly because I was interested that you had a "christianity" label, and I'm pleasantly surprised. I also really love Jesus and appreciate what you wrote here.


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