cover image Shout


Laurie Halse Anderson. Viking, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-670-01210-7

In this powerful memoir told in free verse, Anderson delves into her past and that of her parents, sharing experiences at the root of novels such as Speak (her rape at the age of 13) and The Impossible Knife of Memory (her father’s PTSD after World War II). In language alternately raw and lyrical, she traces the years from her childhood to the start of her writing career, describing how the memory of her rape finally spurred her to write the truth and to become an activist against censorship and rape culture, which are both addressed in the book along with confusing social messages surrounding sexuality (“the rules they fed you/ were the wrong rules”). Exploring the impact of silence on truth (“I learned then that words/ had such power/ some must never be spoken”), she also portrays her parents’ marriage, her shifting relationships with them, and her closeness with her father after her mother’s death. In one especially contemplative poem entitled “how the story found me,” Anderson turns on its head the common refrain “follow your dreams,” recommending that readers “follow your nightmares instead/ cuz when you figure out what’s eating you alive/ you can slay it.” Her potent words and willingness to shout her message are proof of the soundness of that advice. Ages 12–up. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (Mar.)