Friday night, I read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. It’s the story of a girl entering her first year of high school after having been through a traumatic incident over the summer. It’s an easy read, full of quirky observations and a voice that never talks down to the reader. More important for me, however, was the message: That you must speak out. That you must talk. That change cannot come from silence.
Personally, I wish this book had been around when I was young. I lived in an abusive house, and I never told anyone about it. The first thing you learn is never to talk about family to outsiders, and you never question that rule, no matter how bad it gets. I think about all the silence. About the classes I almost failed, even though I was normally a straight-A student. I wonder why no one ever asked me what was going on, why my Geometry teacher never questioned that I could get a 99 on one test and a 50 on the next. No one ever asked, and I never said anything.
Speak is a good book. It’s crafted well with an engaging voice and a very likable main character. But it’s also an important book. If there’s a kid in your life — 10 or 11 or 12 — give them a copy of Speak. You may be giving them a whole lot more.