Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publication Date: March 12th 2019
Find it on: Amazon, Goodreads
A searing poetic memoir and call to action from the bestselling and award-winning author of Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson!
Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now, inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. 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. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society’s failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #metoo and #timesup, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice– and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore.From Goodreads
I haven’t read Laurie’s prior book, Speak, before picking this one up. By happenstance, I attended a book festival in Portland where she was on a panel with some fellow authors and heard about her book at that time. Skeptical but curious, I purchased it even though I don’t generally like reading poetry collections.
I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of poems contained in this book. Divided into three parts, Laurie covers her story pre/during the timeline of her other book, Speak, as well as post-Speak while on book tours speaking to school children across the country. Her poetry covers not only rape and its aftermath but censorship, the failure of public education systems, and societal mores around how sex and intimacy. These are difficult topics and at times it hurt to read the poems as a fellow human being, hoping and wishing some people could be so much better than they choose to be. I feel obliged to bring up as an obvious content warning that the poems contain content covering rape, abuse, depression, suicide, and alcoholism.
Laurie’s poems are well constructed, words selected carefully for impact. They read powerfully and sing with a rhythm that tugs on your heart. Although I sometimes struggle with how sentences are broken up in free-form poetry such as this, the messages shone through beautifully and in the end I didn’t mind reading in this format. I finished this book in a day, which stands as a testament to how moving and engaging the poems were. I’d strongly recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading poetry and has interest in hearing other stories or the #MeToo movement. And even if you’re not a fan of poetry like myself, I’d recommend giving it a try still if you have interest in the content.