where the writers are
Speaking Up For Speak

I first read Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak after I bought it at a conference that I attended where she was giving the key note speech. I had just sold my first novel Boy Proof and she signed my book.

The inscription read:
To Cecil, Who is speaking out in her own books now.

Maybe she signs that in everyone’s books. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. It meant a lot to me.

I went home and read the book and thought it to be quite brilliant. I put it on my shelf. “A treasure,” I thought. “A classic.”

A few years later something happened to me. Something bad. What it is doesn’t matter right now, this is about speaking up about Speak. But when what happened to me happened, I had people who I thought were close friends tell me that I made it up. That it was my fault. That I was lying about what happened. That if I just admitted that it didn’t happen the way I said it had, that everything would go back to normal.

I felt like I couldn’t speak. Like I was being told to shut up. I couldn’t believe it. I shut down. I collapsed.

It was a long time before I got better. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully be better. Once a thing happens, it happens and it’s a part of you. And while you are going through it, you think that you are alone.

But then as I was going through my recovery, I reread Speak. I don’t know why. Or maybe I do. Maybe because I knew that a book like Speak reminds you that you are not alone. That you can heal. That you can speak even though others want you to be quiet. That what you are going through, for whatever it is that has traumatized you, is real. That you are not crazy. That someone will listen and believe you. Maybe I reread it then because I understood it in a new way. And I needed that book. I needed it like we all need water.

Speak is a book that helps people with recovery. Not just teenage girls. But women. Not just women. People.

To ban it. Or call it pornographic. Or to say that it is immoral is obscene.

This is what the book Speak is: It is a life line. It is a shining star in times of darkness. It is a book that saves. It is essential.

I couldn’t have gotten to this place, here, if it weren’t for a book like Speak being in the world. And there is someone somewhere who needs this book right now.

So thank you Laurie for writing such an extraordinary book, and know that you have a little lady over here that will speak up for Speak any time.

Laurie Anderson’s call to speak up for Speak. I’ve chosen to mail this in letter form to the superintendent of the Republic School District, Dr. Vern Minor, and the high school principal, Daren Harris.