By Laurie Halse Anderson
Grade 8 to adult
In this raw, powerful, and very personal memoir, Anderson shares for the first time her own story of rape at age thirteen and her path to recovery. Told in free verse, we learn of Anderson’s dysfunctional family life, her rape by someone she trusted, the emotional toll of keeping it secret, and how she created a life of fulfillment as an author.
The poem that resonated with me the most was, if It please the Court. It expresses how long buried secrets will eventually surface when we least expect it.
Working as a reporter, Anderson fills in one day at the courthouse when a reporter calls out sick. The day is pivotal for her.
the courthouse reporter was out sick one day
so they sent me in his place, the defendant
a plain white guy, late thirties,
kinda small, cheap suit,
good haircut, charged with ugly counts
of sexual assault, plus kidnapping
he looked bored
Listening to the women recount her story, and how the defense lawyer attacks the victim, making her the bad person was too much for Anderson.
ever been in a fight?
fists like hammers, punches thrown
rose-red bloom filling the room
as your rage catches fire
an exploding can of spray paint
when you see that red
shit’s gonna get real…
Unable to write the story, having to confront emotions that she kept deep inside her, the editor assigns someone else.
And the rapist?
Sentenced to some easy time in county jail,
A mild slap on the wrist
Years later, when she sees the rapist walking the mall, he no longer looked bored,
he was hunting
This true story, a survival story of someone who refuses to remain silent, needs a space on every library shelf. Pair it with Anderson’s Speak, in all formats: novel, graphic novel, and movie. Fans of Anderson will come away with a new appreciation of her talents, but more important her encouragement to Speak Up! Tell your own story.
To write this review, I borrowed a copy of the book from my local public library