Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Review: Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Confession: to this day if you ask me who my favorite author is, I will name Laurie Halse Anderson. I have read hundreds, if not thousands of books since Speak, but it was (and always will be) a defining book in my life. I was one of her Speak kids, and thus it will always have a pivotal role in my life. I have been able to sit and have a conversation with her at various conferences. It is with this confession I offer my review of Shout.

 By Laurie Halse Anderson
 Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

 "I am often distracted, diverted
 from my path when I explore old wounds
 it's a defensive reaction,
 a way to modulate my feelings
 and cope with the discomfort, 
 like telling jokes at a funeral,
 not appropriate, but less damaging than gin

 too many grown-ups tell kids to follow
 their dreams
 like that's going to get them somewhere
 Auntie Laurie says follow your nightmares instead
 cuz when you figure out what's eating you alive
 you can slay it " (Shout, 159-160)

Told through verse, this is the story of what makes Laurie, Laurie. It is an intimate look into her own battle with rising up after from being raped and the trauma suffered at home with a father battling PTSD from the war and a rocky home life in general. We are offered glimpses into her life as a young child, through teen years when she battled back from the brink, to traveling to Amsterdam as she did her study abroad year. We follow her as she goes to college, as professor after professor sexual harassed her and into her years as adult with her own family. We follow along as Speak emerges from her dreams and she talks and educates students on what the "big deal" rape and in her words: 

"to talk about consent
get real about consequences
respect the room enough 
to tell the truth
cuz, lordy lordy, they need it" 
(Shout, 182)

As Anderson says in her book, she writes books for those kids the world doesn't want to see and by doing so, she has managed to touch a chord within so many readers and because of this, her books scare individuals who do not want to admit to the gritty, darker side of teen life. I appreciate her willingness to go there, to bare the souls of these teens in her books. Because of this representation and frankness, her books are often challenge which she delves into in Shout. 

Objectively, Halse's most popular work to date is Speak, often times on the English curriculum in many 8th or 9th grade classrooms. This is an excellent nonfiction companion (along with Chrissy Ford's I Have the Right To and Know My Name by Chantel Miller). This book is an absolute for any fan of Anderson's work on the obvious front. I would also argue it should be required reading for any educator to confront the work we as educators still need to do in our own schools. 

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