“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. (resources) (Verse memoir. 13-adult)