Book Review: 'Shout'

Mar 18, 2019

Author Laurie Halse Anderson first wrote about sexual assault in her groundbreaking novel, Speak, which came out in 1999 and opened the door for a national dialogue about rape culture and consent.

In her powerful new free-verse memoir, Shout, Anderson opens up about her childhood, her rape at age 13, and her journey to healing. She also reflects on more than two decades of reader reactions to Speak. She recounts battles against censorship and numerous conversations with young people who would approach her after a school visit in tears, whispering what had happened to them.

Shout is a searing denouncement of our society’s failures and an important book for the #MeToo movement. The verses range from two-line stanzas to longer poems, and Anderson’s voice reflects the silence-turned-anger that so many women are feeling in the wake of the Brett Kavanaugh hearing and other events that have prompted women to speak up against their alleged attackers.

“Too many grown-ups tell kids to follow / their dreams,” Anderson writes. “Like that’s going to get them somewhere / Aunt Laurie says follow your nightmares instead / cuz when you figure out what’s eating you alive / you can slay it.”

Shout is a raw, fiery, captivating account of one woman’s survival, which also serves as a call to action. An example is this poem titled “#MeToo”:

Me, too weak to fight him off
me, too scared, silent
me too, disassembled by the guy
who . . . . . . .

mis understood
mis taken
men tion my name
to my mi sery siblings
as we support
reveal the violence
they desperately want
to conceal.

Me to be stronger,
you to stand taller,
we to shout louder
than they thought
we could.