Why SPEAK is an Important Book

Amid the controversy that SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson is “soft pornography,” as deemed by Wesley Scroggins, an associate professor at Missouri State, who requested that SPEAK be removed from the Missouri public school system, I picked up a copy of the book at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, while I was on vacation in Portland. I read most of the book on my flight home and towards the end, I gripped my husband’s hand as tears fell.

SPEAK is an important book. As a woman who unfortunately knows two friends who were victims of sexual assault, my heart broke as I read SPEAK, because I know that is what my friends went through and countless other women. This book gives girls/women the voice that they so desperately need. I felt helpless when I heard my friends’ stories. Helpless and angry and sad. SPEAK is a book that needs to be read in schools, discussed, and shared with young women everywhere.

To suggest that anything in SPEAK is “soft pornography,” is extremely insensitive and just plain wrong. I doubt any woman who has ever been sexually assaulted ever associates the experience with porn. Secondly, if you object to your child reading this book in school, go to the school and discuss it with the teacher. Banning this book and pulling it out of the hands of young readers is downright dangerous. So many girls blame themselves for what happened or are told that it wasn’t really rape if you knew the guy. Banning SPEAK from schools shuts out so many young girls and boys from learning about sexual assault.

Instead of being attacked, Laurie Halse Anderson should be commended for her beautiful, hauntingly real, and important book. Her portrayal of Melinda is so honest. She deserves all the support she has received from countless teachers, readers, and fellow authors who have now mobilized on Twitter under the hashtag #SpeakLoudly.

Thank you Laurie Halse Anderson for having written such an important book that inspires young women to have a voice when they think they don’t.

The original argument by Welsey Scroggins to get SPEAK banned (as well as Kurt Vonnegut’s SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE and Sarah Ockler’s TWENTY BOY SUMMER).

Entertainment Weekly’s interview with Anderson about the controversy.

2 Comments on “Why SPEAK is an Important Book”

  1. That part of Missouri is extremely conservative. Actually, most of Missouri is. Missouri has the distinction of having birthed the Tea Party movement 30 miles from where I live.

    Speak sounds amazing. I can’t wait to pick it up and read over break. Thanks for posting.

    • It amazes me when people try to ban books at schools instead of just not having their child read the book.

      SPEAK is amazing. It’s a quick read, so well written. And after you’re done, you’ll be thinking, “They want to ban this?”

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