Cover images taken from Amazon.
Rationale for: Shout
Anderson, L.H. (2019). Shout. New York: Viking.
Gr 8+ ; YA
Part memoir, part call for change, this book of poetry by noted author Laurie Halse Anderson touches on timeless topics. Anderson recalls her childhood, haunted by an alcoholic father and troubled mother, and the ways in which her life changed after she was raped by a peer. The reader follows Anderson’s journey as she shuts down and spirals – and as she heals and blooms. We learn of her path to becoming an author, and how Speak reflected some aspects of her own life. The book then shifts to a discussion of how rape culture continues to thrive in this era. Anderson weaves in discussions of #MeToo and calls for change, while letting survivors and victims know that they are not alone.
Poetry aimed at young people has become increasingly popular in the last several years, perhaps spurred on by “Instagram poetry.” Teens are turning toward poets like Rupi Kaur and books like The Poet X and Long Way Down to help navigate what are often difficult years. Shout is another addition to this canon, with its easy to understand poetry aimed at the issues that teens face themselves: identity crises, tumultuous families, sexual assault, and depression. The book also aims to uplift these teens and provide them with supportive words and resources if they need them. Providing such poetry helps teens expand their literary tastes, and can encourage them to write poems or prose as well.
The content itself – frank discussions of rape, sexual assault, and rape culture – will help teens understand the political and cultural climate they must face today, as well as their own troubles. Teens are facing these issues every day; according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), “one in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult” (2018). These are issues that teens have exposure to, and having a resource that reflects their lives and aims to help them is a useful resource.
Although any challenges of the book have not been released (it is a 2019 release), some parents and community members may object to the title due to its discussions of sex, rape, substance abuse, mental health, and family problems. It also discusses current political topics such as rape culture and the #MeToo movement.
· “With “Speak,” Anderson opened the door for more novels exploring the deeply felt and deeply personal aftermath of sexual violence. “Shout” serves as both a testament to the life-altering, lifesaving impact of these types of stories — and as an urgent and brutal reminder of their ongoing necessity.” – The New York Times
· “‘This is the story of a girl who lost her voice and wrote herself a new one.’
The award-winning author, who is also a rape survivor, opens up in this powerful free-verse memoir, holding nothing back. Part 1 begins with her father’s lifelong struggle as a World War II veteran, her childhood and rape at 13 by a boy she liked, the resulting downward spiral, her recovery during a year as an exchange student in Denmark, and the dream that gave her Melinda, Speak’s (1999) protagonist. Part 2 takes readers through her journey as a published author and National Book Award finalist. She recalls some of the many stories she’s heard during school visits from boys and girls who survived rape and sexual abuse and calls out censorship that has prevented some speaking engagements. In Part 3, she wraps up with poems about her family roots. The verse flows like powerful music, and Anderson's narrative voice is steady and direct: “We should teach our girls / that snapping is OK, / instead of waiting / for someone else to break them.” The poems range in length from a pair of two-line stanzas to several pages. Readers new to Anderson will find this accessible. It’s a strong example of how lived experience shapes art and an important book for the #MeToo movement. Necessary for every home, school, and public library.” – Kirkus Reviews
· “Parents need to know that Shout is award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson's memoir that focuses primarily on the aftermath of being sexually assaulted as a young teen, how it inspired her to write her breakthrough novel Speak, and how many readers have made similar revelations to her since the book's publication in 1999. Written in verse, the book is also an overview of her entire life, from childhood in upstate New York to the devastating rape at age 13 to a formative year abroad in Denmark in high school, and later her college years and beyond until she's an aspiring writer and mother. Then she is finally compelled to write Melinda's story in Speak. Halse Anderson doesn't shy away from mature topics like alcohol and drug use (by adults and teens), domestic abuse, and most overtly, sexual abuse. She recounts not only her own memories of sexual assault, but also those of many (unnamed) readers. There's occasional strong language (including "s--t" and "f---ing"), as well as many references to rape and rape culture, but it's all teen appropriate as she attempts to empower young men and women to use their voices, advocate for consent culture, and support survivors of abuse. Readers who prefer audiobooks will enjoy that the book is read by the author herself.” – Common Sense Media
· ““This is the story of a girl who lost her voice and wrote herself a new one.” So opens Anderson’s three-part autobiographical collection of dynamic, mostly free-verse poems that serves as a potent poetic endnote for her landmark novel Speak (rev. 9/99). In the first third, she recounts the painful origin story of her alcoholic parents (“two ships ripped from their moorings”), a confusing childhood full of frequent moves, and the harrowing rape, when she was thirteen, that was the basis for Speak. Suffering silently through ninth grade, Anderson eventually finds her words again through the kind attention of teachers, a robust sports schedule, and a student-exchange program that places her with a nurturing family in Denmark. She follows this section (which takes her into adulthood and Speak’s publication) with a series of impassioned poems about sexual assault, censorship, menstruation, sex and love, and consent, born of the hundreds of personal stories confided to her at author visits, book festivals, and conferences. These poems address topics ranging from the #MeToo movement to clergy sexual abuse, in muscular stanzas that both heal and hit back. Anderson concludes with a quiet set of reflective family poems that makes peace with her now-deceased parents. By turns angry, commanding, raw, and wistful, this collection is a praise song to survivors, a blistering rebuke to predators, and a testament to the healing power of shared stories.” – Horn Book Reviews
N/A (2019 release)
School Library Journal article about Anderson and Shout and Speak.
In 2009, she was awarded the Margaret A. Edwards award from YALSA for her contribution to young adult literature:
Interview with Anderson about Speak and Shout:
Milk & Honey and/or The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Speak: the Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America by Amy Reed
Rationale for: Twisted
Anderson, L.H. (2007). Twisted. New York: Viking.
Gr 8+ ; YA
After doing “The Foul Deed” (vandalizing school property) and being punished for it, high school senior Tyler Miller just wants life to get back to normal. After a summer of working in construction, Tyler is more confident and built, and his long-time crush, Bethany, has finally noticed him. While this relationship blossoms, his family life continues to fall apart: his overworked father emotionally abuses his family, his mother drinks as a coping mechanism, and his younger sister begins to date his nerdy best friend. After one night at a party goes horribly wrong, Tyler must face his future and decide what kind of man he will be.
So many modern YA books explore what it means to be a girl and woman in this world; in fact, Anderson’s own books navigate this topic. But books that explore masculinity and the pressure young men face today to be tough and invulnerable are more rare, but just as necessary.
With discussions about gender, rape culture, suicide, bullying, male violence, and toxic masculinity becoming topics that concern young people nowadays, such a book can help young people have a reference on how to deal with such issues.
Twisted was challenged in a high school in Mount Sterling, Kentucky for inappropriate content (Anderson, n.d.).
The books depicts Tyler almost killing himself with a gun, and shares his somewhat-frequent thoughts of violence toward his father and bully. It also depicts on the page teenage drinking and sexual content. Additionally, it deals with consent and features an incident where an inebriated girl has graphic pictures taken of her and distributed without her consent.
· “At first, you'll think you've seen this before; but then you start to notice some intriguing differences. The dweeb is buff and has a police record, some of the adults actually seem to care, the siblings like each other, the little sister has a good head on her shoulders, and the teenaged main character has become an adult before he or any of the other characters have noticed. And it's not much longer before you're completely swept up into a story with powerful emotional resonance, in which the protagonist may actually see a light at the end of the tunnel before the reader does.
Author Laurie Anderson does a good job with her first try at getting inside the head of a boy and speaking in his voice. Everything rings true here, and Tyler has more than earned the sympathy of the reader long before he is pushed beyond what anyone should have to deal with. It's a terrific thing, and all too rare, to see a protagonist develop hard-won strength of character right before your eyes.” – Common Sense Media
· “The heart of this novel is its narrator, high school senior Tyler Miller, who at first glance might seem to be a typical high school loser. Tyler is doing six months of mandatory community service after spray-painting the walls of his high school with crude remarks about the principal. Take a closer look, though. Tyler is a wonderfully funny, moving narrator and, it turns out, an all-around good guy. He has one smart, true friend nicknamed Yoda. Almost everyone else is against him, however, especially his hard-nosed, workaholic father. His mother drowns all of her sorrows in gin and tonics.
Things go from bad to worse when Tyler accidentally creates complete chaos during a dinner party hosted by his father's boss. Tyler leaves the disastrous party with an enemy who wants revenge the boss' son, Chip. He also leaves with the hots for the boss' daughter, Bethany.
As Tyler's senior year begins, he is astounded to find that Bethany returns his interest. She invites him to a party, which gets out of hand. Someone takes unflattering pictures of Bethany and puts them on the Internet. The police get involved, and everyone is convinced that Tyler is to blame.
Twisted tackles head-on many of the tough issues facing older teens: alcohol, sex, grades, popularity, honesty, parents, college and more. Despite all of this, it is ultimately an uplifting book, mainly because of the freshness of Tyler's voice and Anderson's crisp writing and storytelling.
Anderson's acclaimed young adult books include Fever 1793, Prom and Speak, which was a Best Book of the Year selection by School Library Journal and a finalist for the National Book Award. Give her latest novel to a teenager ready to read about the complexities of high school, and that teen probably won't be able to put the book down.” – BookPage
· “Anderson returns to weightier issues in the style of her most revered work, Speak (1999), and stretches her wings by offering up a male protagonist for the first time. Tyler was always the kind of guy who didn’t stand out until he spends the summer before his senior year working as punishment for spray painting the school. His new image and buff physique attracts Bethany—the über-popular daughter of his father’s boss—but his angry and distant father becomes even more hostile towards him. Despite the graffiti incident, though, Tyler is a conscientious, albeit confused, young man, trying to find his way. Unfortunately, his newfound notoriety as a “bad boy” leads to false accusations that land him—and his father’s job—in hot water. As tension mounts, Tyler reaches a crisis point revealed through one of the most poignant and gripping scenes in young-adult literature. Taking matters into his own hands, Tyler decides that he must make a choice about what kind of man he wants to be, with or without his father’s guidance.” – Kirkus Reviews
· “At first, Anderson's (Speak ) contemporary novel appears to be a "twisted" version of a Cinderella story. Unpopular senior Tyler Miller ("a zit on the butt of the student body") gains stature and notoriety the summer after he pulls off an impressive prank: "spray-painting a couple thousand dollars worth of damage to the school." But readers soon discover that the author has something more complex and original to offer than a fairy-tale rendition of transformation. Humorous, compelling first-person narrative traces how Tyler's newfound happiness as a gutsy tough-guy soon turns to agony; he starts to wish that he could go back to being "invisible." Tyler is floating on Cloud Nine when he wins favor with rich, popular Bethany Milbury, but she drops him after he won't sleep with her, and then he gets the blame when compromising photos of her appear on the Internet. As a result, Tyler has to contend with the police, a verbally abusive father (who works for Bethany's dad), a principal who is still angry about the graffiti incident, and a slew of new enemies at school. With justice seemingly beyond his reach, Tyler considers suicide and running away from home before settling for less drastic measures. This dark comedy gives a chillingly accurate portrayal of the high-school social scene, in which morals, perceptions and conceptions of truth are continually being challenged. Tyler may not gain hero status with his peers, but readers will respect his integrity, which outshines his mistakes.” – Publishers Weekly
South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult Book Award (2010)
Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2008)
Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award (2009)
Lincoln Award Nominee (2011)
Missouri Gateway Readers Award Nominee (2010)
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
In 2009, Anderson was awarded the Margaret A. Edwards award from YALSA for her contribution to young adult literature:
Discussion questions for Twisted:
Anderson on challenging Twisted:
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins
Ironman by Chris Crutcher
Hero-Type by Barry Lyga
Bang by Barry Lyga
Cutter Boy by Cristy Watson
Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry
Nailed by Patrick Jones
Inexcusable by Chris Lynch
You by Charles Benoit
Rationale for: Speak
Anderson, L.H. (2019). Speak. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.
Gr 9+ ; YA
Melinda Sordino enters her freshman year of high school not with hope and a friend group, but by herself, isolated and seen as an outcast. After she called the cops on a party, no one but the new, annoyingly perky girl will talk to her, including her best friend. No one except her art teacher seems to understand the lies about high school — that they care about students and what they have to say. Her family is dysfunctional, and Melinda feels lost. While she begins to spiral, her grades suffer and she talks less and less. But as she notices her ex-best friend becoming close with a monster, she finds a way to speak and protect her — and others in her school — and begins to heal.
Speak is a critically acclaimed novel that continues to be read some twenty years later – which is not common with YA novels that fade with fads. It has inspired a movie adaptation, a graphic novel edition, and a special 20th anniversary edition. Melinda’s story and pain continue to resonate; consider the #MeToo movement and national dialogues about gender and rape culture. Teenagers are part of this conversation, and have their own experiences to add. This novel offers such teens a chance to see that healing from such pain is possible. While some may argue that teens should not be exposed to such content, they are likely receiving harmful information about these topics regardless, and many of them are experiencing violence and need resources.
As the author writes:
“Every two minutes, someone in America is sexually assaulted. About 17% of American women and 3% American men have been sexually assaulted. 7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused. And juvenile victims know their assailant in 93% of cases.
Parents must face up to their responsibilities to prepare their children about the dangers of the world. They must get over their own squeamishness about discussing human sexuality in order to do so. If more boys were taught by their parents what sexual consent is, and that it is required – ALWAYS – we’d have less sexual violence” (Anderson, 2019)
This title depicts rape/sexual assault and substance use, as well as depression and suicidal ideation. Speak’s protagonist also does not have a positive relationship with her parents, who make up a dysfunctional family, and she does not view high school positively.
Speak has been challenged and/or banned. In Florida, one parent called the book “child pornography” and the book was put up for removal before the school board (NCAC, n.d.). Another called the book “soft pornography” in Missouri and asked local school districts to ban it (Flood, 2010).
Speak made the #60 spot on the ALA’s list of Top 100 Banned Books of 2000-2009.
· “This is one of the most devastatingly true and painful portrayals of high school to come along in a long time. The cliques, from the Jocks to the Big Hair Chix to the Marthas (devotees of a certain Ms. Stewart), are pigeonholed to perfection. Outsider Melinda seems somehow familiar, too. Her witty, ironic commentaries can't cover up her pain at being excluded. Kids who are genuine outsiders stand to gain a lot from this compassionate novel. The author offers real solutions to Melinda's pain: Melinda's connection to a mentor, her artistic creations, and even her plans for a flower garden all feed her inner strength. When she's finally able to speak, readers will rejoice in her triumphs.” – Common Sense Media
· “In a stunning first novel, Anderson uses keen observations and vivid imagery to pull readers into the head of an isolated teenager. Divided into the four marking periods of an academic year, the novel, narrated by Melinda Sordino, begins on her first day as a high school freshman. No one will sit with Melinda on the bus. At school, students call her names and harass her; her best friends from junior high scatter to different cliques and abandon her. Yet Anderson infuses the narrative with a wit that sustains the heroine through her pain and holds readers' empathy. A girl at a school pep rally offers an explanation of the heroine's pariah status when she confronts Melinda about calling the police at a summer party, resulting in several arrests. But readers do not learn why Melinda made the call until much later: a popular senior raped her that night and, because of her trauma, she barely speaks at all. Only through her work in art class, and with the support of a compassionate teacher there, does she begin to reach out to others and eventually find her voice. Through the first-person narration, the author makes Melinda's pain palpable: ""I stand in the center aisle of the auditorium, a wounded zebra in a National Geographic special."" Though the symbolism is sometimes heavy-handed, it is effective. The ending, in which her attacker comes after her once more, is the only part of the plot that feels forced. But the book's overall gritty realism and Melinda's hard-won metamorphosis will leave readers touched and inspired.” – Publishers Weekly
· “Anderson’s timeless and important tale of high-school sexual assault and its aftermath undergoes a masterful graphic novel transformation. Melinda, a nascent freshman, is raped at a party shortly before the beginning of school. In an attempt to report the crime, Melinda calls 911, and the party is shut down. When the semester begins, Melinda has become a pariah who spends her days silent. In addition to internalizing the emotional aspects of the assault, Melinda is relentlessly bullied by her peers and often runs into her attacker—a popular senior—who delights in terrorizing her. Although Anderson’s novel came out nearly 20 years ago, this raw adaptation feels current, even with contemporary teenage technological minutiae conspicuously absent. Melinda relies upon art to work as a vulnerary; this visual adaptation takes readers outside Melinda’s head and sits them alongside her, seeing what she sees and feeling the importance and power of her desire to create art and express herself. Carroll’s stark black-and-white illustrations are exquisitely rendered, capturing the mood through a perfectly calibrated lens. With the rise of women finding their voices and speaking out about sexual assault in the media, this reworking of the enduring 1999 classic should be on everyone’s radar. Powerful, necessary, and essential.” (Review of graphic novel edition). – Kirkus Reviews
· “Speaking out at the “wrong” time — calling 911 from a teen drinking party — has made Melinda a social outcast; now she barely speaks at all. A conversation with her father about their failed Thanksgiving dinner goes as follows: “Dad: ‘It’s supposed to be soup.’ / Me: / Dad: ‘It tasted a bit watery, so I kept adding thickener . . . .’/ Me: .” While Melinda’s smart and savvy interior narrative slowly reveals the searing pain of that 911 night, it also nails the high-school experience cold — from “The First Ten Lies They Tell You” (number eight: “Your schedule was created with your needs in mind”) to cliques and clans and the worst and best in teachers. The book is structurally divided into four marking periods, over which Melinda’s grades decline severely and she loses the only friend she has left, a perky new girl she doesn’t even like. Melinda’s nightmare discloses itself in bits throughout the story: a frightening encounter at school (“I see IT in the hallway . . . . IT sees me. IT smiles and winks”), an artwork that speaks pain. Melinda aches to tell her story, and well after readers have deduced the sexual assault, we feel her choking on her untold secret. By springtime, while Melinda studies germination in Biology and Hawthorne’s symbolism in English, and seeds are becoming “restless” underground, her nightmare pushes itself inexorably to the surface. When her ex-best-friend starts dating the “Beast,” Melinda can no longer remain silent. A physical confrontation with her attacker is dramatically charged and not entirely in keeping with the tone of the rest of the novel, but is satisfying nonetheless, as Melinda wields a shard of broken glass and finds her voice at last to scream, “No!” Melinda’s distinctive narrative employs imagery that is as unexpected as it is acute: “April is humid . . . . A warm, moldy washcloth of a month.” Though her character is her own and not entirely mute like the protagonist of John Marsden’s So Much to Tell You, readers familiar with both books will be impelled to compare the two girls made silent by a tragic incident. The final words of Marsden’s book are echoed in those of Speak, as Melinda prepares to share her experience with a father-figure art teacher: “Me: ‘Let me tell you about it.’” An uncannily funny book even as it plumbs the darkness, Speak will hold readers from first word to last.” – The Horn Book
School Library Best Books of the Year
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Blue Ribbon Award
California Young Reader Medal
BCCB Blue Ribbon Award, Books for the Teen Age
New York Public Library
Golden Kite Award Winner
National Book Awards Finalist
NYPL Books for the Teen Age
Booklist Editors' Choice
American Library Association Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adults
ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adults
School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults
Golden Kite Award for Fiction
PA Carolyn W. Field Award
Michael L. Printz Award - Honor
American Library Association Quick Picks for Young Adults
Kentucky Blue Grass Award
ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominee
Horn Book Magazine Fanfare List
School Library Journal article about Anderson and Shout and Speak.
In 2009, she was awarded the Margaret A. Edwards award from YALSA for her contribution to young adult literature:
Two of her novels, Speak and Chains, have been nominated for National Book Awards:
ALA’s Top 100 Banned Books List:
Interview with Anderson about Speak and Shout:
Discussion questions for Speak:
Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
I Stop Somewhere, by T.E Carter
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
Saints & Misfits by S.K. Ali
All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry
The Pain Eater by Beth Goobie
Where I Live by Brenda Rufener
Sadie by Courtney Summers
All the Rage by Courtney Summers
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen
My Whole Truth by Mischa Thrace
Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather
Adams, L. (1999, September 7). Review of Speak. The Horn Book. Retrieved from https://www.hbook.com/1999/09/choosing-books/reviews/review-of-speak/
Anderson, L.H. (n.d.). Challenges to Twisted. Retrieved from http://madwomanintheforest.com/educators/censorship/challenges-to-twisted/
Anderson, L.H. (2019). Speak. Retrieved from http://madwomanintheforest.com/book/speak/
Cary, A. (2007, March). Twisted. Book Page. Retrieved from https://bookpage.com/reviews/5101-laurie-halse-anderson-twisted-teen
Challenged book: Speak. (n.d.) National Coalition Against Censorship wiki. Retrieved from http://www.wiki.ncac.org/Challenged_Book:_Speak
Flood, A. (2010, September 29). Authors and readers rally to defend rape novel from school ban. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/sep/29/defend-novel-school-ban
Rainn (n.d.). Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Retrieved from https://www.rainn.org/statistics/children-and-teens
Shout review. (2019). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/shout
Shout review. (2019, January 15). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/laurie-halse-anderson/shout-anderson/
Speak review. (n.d.). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/speak
Speak. (n.d.). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-374-37152-4
Speak review. (2018, February 5). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/laurie-halse-anderson/speak-anderson/
Summers, C. (2019, March 1). In a memoir, Laurie Halse Anderson gets personal about rape. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/01/books/review/laurie-halse-anderson-shout.html
Swan, J.H. (2019, March 13). Review of Shout: A poetry memoir. The Horn Book. Retrieved from https://www.hbook.com/2019/03/choosing-books/review-of-the-week/review-of-shout-a-poetry-memoir/
Twisted. (n.d.). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-670-06101-3
Twisted review. (n.d.). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/twisted
Twisted review (2010, June 24). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/laurie-halse-anderson/twisted-2/