Before I get started into the serious part of the post, I want to give a huge thanks to Rachel for our blog design, and for her patience with dealing with three different people and three different visions/tastes. Thank you, Rachel!
Have you all heard of the Speak Loudly controversy? Read Laurie Halse Anderson’s blog here for the background.
I’ve been thinking about this since I found out about it and wanting to say something profound about censorship and about this book in particular. But I don’t have much. Laurie has said it all, as well and as wonderfully as only she can say it. But I do want to do whatever I can to let people know about this and about this book, which is one of the reasons I started writing contemporary young adult fiction (something I have yet to do successfully–I have said before and will say again that I believe it is the most difficult genre to get right).
I remember when Jon Ostenson (a fellow teacher) came up to me at Timpview High School and said, “You have to read this,” and handed me Speak. It was my first year teaching, which is a special kind of hell (not because of the students, but because you are writing all the lessons from scratch and you haven’t learned to grade efficiently yet) and I was swamped, overwhelmed, covered in ninth grade research papers. But I stayed up almost all night and read that beautiful, harrowing book.
My father was a judge for many years. And he saw terrible, horrible things in the lovely little town where we lived. When he came home, sometimes the weight of the world was on his shoulders and the light was almost gone from his eyes. And he told us things he thought we should know. About what happens to girls everywhere, and why you have to be careful, and why a dark and dangerous boy is, contrary to popular belief, also dark and dangerous to you.
My dad wasn’t trying to scare us or cripple us.
He was just trying to tell us about the world we live in and what happens to the people who live in it. Because even if the pain isn’t yours, it could be. And as a human being, that should matter.
Speak tells you things about someone else’s pain. It tells you things about your own pain. And the catharsis and the beauty in the telling–that is something no one should be denied.
Banning books and censorship need to stop. Spread the word. Speak loudly.