#SpeakLoudly supports the book "Speak," by Laurie Halse Anderson, a Young Adult novel about a girl struggling in the aftermath of rape. Because the previous day a Missouri man named Wesley Scroggins called it "soft pornography," arguing in an op-ed that his school district shouldn't assign it to students. He also went after Sarah Ockler's "Twenty Boy Summer" and Kurt Vonnegut's classic "Slaughterhouse-Five".
Banned Books Week
Sept. 25 - Oct. 2
Sherry Jones: The Enemy Within -- Self Censorship.
Catherine Ryan Hyde: Web Speaks Loudly Against Book Bans.
Eugenia Kim: How My Dad Became Cool Fighting a Book Ban.
I could say a great deal about this book, how much I loved it, and how pornographic it isn't. But instead I'd rather focus on the show of solidarity, respect and love the likes of which I can't recall.
At 6:30 a.m. in Indiana, an English teacher and creator of Raw Ink online, Paul W. Hankins, tweeted a reaction to Scroggins' article: "If you have had the same powerful experiences with @halseanderson's work that I have had, it's time to #SpeakLoudly." He suggested readers share their experience using the hashtag (a Twitter symbol that starts a searchable thread) #SpeakLoudly. He asked us to dedicate our blogs that day to the support of "Speak."
Apparently you don't have to ask the Young Adult book community twice.
The author, Laurie Halse Anderson, blogged her thoughts, including a video reading of a heart-wrenching poem, made up in large part from words of readers who have experienced rape.
Tweeters said, "Now I have to read 'Speak.'" They tweeted Amazon sales rankings of "Speak" and the Sherman Alexie book as sales climbed. They said, "If you have the resources, order a copy of 'Speak' today. Gift it to a reader." And, "Going to fight ignorance and stupidity by buying two copies of 'Speak' today -- one for me and one for my library!" And, "Enter the contest to win Wesley Scroggins' 3 fave books!"
Rape victims spoke. Christians spoke. Christian rape victims spoke. Mr. Hankins himself spoke.
They spoke in Spanish. They spoke in Swedish.
Cheryl Rainfield, the brave and admirable author of "Scars," tweeted: "My parents -- who sexually abused me & tried to silence me -- would want to silence books like @halseanderson's Speak." Then she linked to her incredibly honest and raw blog post.
The Reclusive Bibliophile blog posted "Hell Hath No Fury like the Book Community Scorned," with a list of links to participating blogs (nearly 150 as of this writing, including one on the Huffington Post. Many hosted contests giving away copies of the challenged books.
At about 6 p.m. Pacific, "Twibbons" appeared. People reset their page backgrounds to a pattern of 500 supporters of #SpeakLoudly. The number of displayed Twibbons quickly shot up over 1,300.
Laurie Halse Anderson summed up the power of the groundswell in her Sept. 22 blog, saying: "You -- my readers -- changed the world this week," and, "If I said 'thank you' every minute for the next hundred years of my life, it would not be enough gratitude for this outpouring of support and for your loud defense of the freedom to read, to think, and to speak up. I will ... probably burst into tears whenever I meet one of you. (Please bring Kleenex if you're coming to hear me speak on my next tour.)"
Clear words that ring loudly.
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 16 published and forthcoming books, including the novels Becoming Chloe, Love in the Present Tense, and Pay It Forward, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list. Read Catherine's blog on Red Room.