Summary and book reviews of Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson X
Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2019, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2020, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Adrienne Pisch
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About this Book

Book Summary

A searing poetic memoir and call to action from the bestselling and award-winning author of Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson!

Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now, inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she's never written about before.

Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society's failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #MeToo and #TimesUp, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice - and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore.

Excerpt
Shout

shame turned inside out

Sisters of the torn shirts.
Sisters of the chase
around the desk,
casting couch, hotel
room, file cabinet.
Sisters dragging
shattered dreams
bruised hopes
ambitions abandoned
in the dirt.
Sisters fishing
one by one
in the lake of shame;
hooks baited with fear
always come back empty.
Truth dawns slow
when you've been beaten
and lied to,

but it burns hard and bright
once it wakes.
Sisters, drop
everything. Walk
away from the lake, leaning
on each other's shoulders
when you need
the support. Feel the contractions
of another truth ready
to be born: shame
turned
inside out
is rage.

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Why is the book divided into three parts? Why is the poem "Speak, Draft One, Page One" in Part One instead of Part Two?
  2. Reread "librarian on the cusp of courage" and discuss her interaction with Anderson. Is the librarian courageous at all? What does courage look like for survivors of sexual violence? What does courage look like for teachers? For school communities? For authors and other artists?
  3. Anderson repeatedly calls attention to the etymology and de nition of words, and several poems explicitly compare words. Reread "two opposites of rape," "the word," and "shame turned inside out." How do these underscore her argument about the power of language?
  4. Anderson ends her introduction with the following sentence: "This is the story...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Shout is a brilliant mix of raw and refined free verse that captures vulnerability and strength. It is a must-read for teens and adults alike...continued

Full Review (597 words).

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(Reviewed by Adrienne Pisch).

Media Reviews

New York Times
Shout effectively paints the complexities of coming of age in a household mired in inherited silence and shame...The strengths of Shout lie in these foundational experiences that shaped Anderson’s career. The book falters when it strays from the title’s directive, particularly in portions of the first and third parts that meander slightly.

Los Angeles Review of Books
I wanted more of the poetry of creation, not just accusation, however necessary the latter is. To be fair, such a balancing act might not be appropriate yet; too much corrective work still needs to be done...[Shout is] a powerful testament that bears witness not just to [Anderson's] own pain, and the pain of others similarly abused, but also to the power of speaking persistently, time and time again, about topics that most people don't want to hear.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this powerful memoir told in free verse, Anderson delves into her past...Her potent words and willingness to shout her message are proof of the soundness of that advice.

Booklist
Starred Review. A captivating, powerful read about clawing your way out of trauma, reclaiming your body, and undoing lifetimes of lessons in order to use your voice as the weapon it is. Fervent and deafening.

School Library Journal
Starred Review. More than a gifted writer, Anderson is an advocate for anyone who feels alienated. Her sensitive, incisive book is essential for all young people.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. 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.

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Beyond the Book

20 Years of Speak

SpeakReleased in 1999, Speak was Laurie Halse Anderson's first novel and also her most controversial. Melinda Sordino, the protagonist, is raped the summer before her freshman year of high school at a house party. She calls the police but is unable to verbalize what happened, leaving the scene before they arrive. The police bust the house party, and Melinda is hated by all her classmates. She almost completely stops speaking but begins to heal through a project for her art class.

The novel was not expected to succeed. Halse Anderson says that her editor tried to manage her expectations at the time of its release – maybe she would sell 3,000 copies in three years, and then the novel would go out of print. But 20 years later, it has sold...

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