This guy thinks SPEAK is pornography

Remember last September, when the book banners crawled out of their pits of nastiness to try to remove YA literature from classrooms and libraries?

It is September again, my friends.

Wesley Scroggins is an associate professor of management at Missouri State University. He was also a speaker at Reclaiming Missouri for Christ, a recent seminar whose purpose was to “To educate our pastors, legislators, educators, students, and all citizens as to the truth about America’s Christian Heritage and the role of fundamental, Biblical Christianity in the establishment and function of our legal, legislative, and educational system, and to work towards the successful reestablishment of these values in our society.”

(Note: I love Jesus. My dad is a United Methodist minister. I point out Scroggins’ affiliation with this group so readers can understand his larger agenda.)

Wesley wrote an opinion piece in the News-Leader of Springfield, MO, in which he characterized SPEAK as filthy and immoral. Then he called it “soft pornography” because of two rape scenes.

The fact that he sees rape as sexually exciting (pornographic) is disturbing, if not horrifying. It gets worse, if that’s possible, when he goes on to completely mischaracterize the book.

Some people say that I shouldn’t make a big deal about this. That I am giving him more attention than he deserves. But this guy lives about an hour and half from the school district that banned Sherman Alexie’s THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN this month.

My fear is that good-hearted people in Scroggins’ community will read his piece and believe what he says. And then they will complain to the school board. And then the book will be pulled and then all those kids who might have found truth and support in the book will be denied that. In addition, all the kids who have healthy emotional lives but who hate reading, will miss the chance to enjoy a book that might change their opinion.

All because some wingnut grabbed the opinion page of his newspaper, bellowed his lies, and no one challenged him.

I have already received incredible support on Facebook and in my inbox. Paul Hankins, an English teacher from Indiana, has started a Twitterfeed –  #SpeakLoudly  – where people can tweet their opinions. And my hero, Judy Blume, wrote to say she is bringing this nonsense to the attention of the National Council Against Censorship.

(I must confess – receiving a message from Judy Blume made me shriek a little. I am such a fangrrl of hers.)

I love the support from the blogosphere, but am concerned that the people in Scroggins’ community who might be swayed by his nonsense are not reading those blogs or following Twitter feeds on the topic. So I am writing to the school district superintendent and to the newspaper. But I know (because I’ve been here before) that my comments will likely be greeted with scepticism because I have a vested interest in the process.

I need your help.

Please share your experiences with SPEAK; your own response to the book, or the way you’ve seen it work in a school setting. Tahleen has already posted her thoughts on her blog. You can do the same. Please share links to your blog in Comments.

But then, please speak up to the people who can make a real difference in Republic, MO.

You can submit a letter to the editor of the News-Leader.

You can write to the superintendent of the Republic School District, Dr. Vern Minor, or to the high school principal, Daren Harris.

You can comment directly to Scroggins’ opinion piece.

Here I am reading “Listen” the poem I wrote based on reader response to SPEAK.

Banned Books Week is only a few days away. Consider this your chance to get a head start on speaking up about a good book and defending the intellectual freedoms guaranteed us in our Constitution.

412 Replies to “This guy thinks SPEAK is pornography”

  1. Has he even read the book, or seen the movie for that matter? There is no sex in SPEAK. There’s really no mention of sex. It’s the story of a very courageous girl trying to move on after a horrific and tragic experience. I love this book, as well as WINTERGIRLS for that matter, and I support you! So sorry you have to be subject to this madness.

  2. I’m fighting tears of frustration over this idiocy. I just… I… GAH. I’ll have to compose myself before responding further.

    Suffice it to say, SPEAK helped me to speak up. Scroggins likens rape to soft porn? That’s sick. He should be examined and have a restraining order put on him. Gross. HIDEOUS.

  3. There are no words to express what I feel about this idiocy. I read “Speak” with my then-just-going-into-high-school niece who was really having some rough times at home. What a wonderful thing to pull us closer together – and it was the way I could share with her that I had been raped.

    I’m boosting the signal in my LiveJournal, and I’ll be writing a few letters as well.

    Thanks for all you do, Laurie. Your books, your WFMAD, your activism… you are my Judy Blume.

  4. Laurie, this issue is very near and dear to my heart. My agency works with rape victims every single day (I am an educator for a rape crisis/domestic violence program), so I become filled with rage whenever someone insinuates rape is pleasurable or pornography, because it absolutely does not feel that way for a victim.

    I wrote a long post with statistics, bits about rape culture and why it is absolutely essential that Speak remain on the shelves:

  5. I’m appalled that he even considers rape to be porn. It’s a violent and criminal act, not a form of entertainment. SPEAK has a powerful message for the countless number of girls who’ve dealt with the same issue. It should never been banned. It should be part of the school curriculum.

  6. This book is fantastic for girls and boys in my classroom. I have copies on my free reading shelf and they are never on my shelf. Dogeared, covers torn, repaired by our fantastic librarian when the pages separate from the binding. There is nothing pornographic about the rape and attempted rape. They are horrifyingly real.

  7. Wow. This is just wrong. I read Speak in eighth grade, two years ago, and really, his wanting to ban an extremely well written piece of lit is just horrendous. It’s extremely important: IMHO, all people should read Speak. No matter what age or gender….Well as long as it’s during/after Middle School. This is something I could never imagine happening at my own school (even though it’s PK-12), and there is no way that it is “pornographic”.

  8. Writing in support! Scroggins wants to ban SPEAK because of “sexual contact?” Hey Scroggins – rape is NOT a sexual act, it’s an act of violence!!! Count on me to stand by you and your book Laurie!

  9. I was truly speechless with awe when I read SPEAK. It’s not only one of they most beautifully executed YA books I’ve read, it’s one of the few books to tackle the all-too-real issue of teen rape. Thank you for your courage in writing this book. When the crazy people want to ban you, you must be doing it right.

    Dorothy Hearst

  10. I’ve never read “Speak”. I can say as a mother of 3 children, I do not ban any books from them. I encourage them to read from many genres, authors etc.. this helps to expand their minds, and see things from the perspective of someone other than themselves.

    Granted, I am not prepared for my 6 year old to read about someone being raped, but early teens?? Why the hell not?? This is something they face in school and in life. I have a son in high school, just last year a girl was raped when she went to the bathroom; in school, during school hours. It’s very real, probably for more people than we even realize. So we are to continue making this feel like a shameful happening by silencing people? That we are to cower down to someone and ban a book like this because someone thinks rape is pornographic??

    I am sick and tired of people stepping up on a soap box and making issues and spreading discontent about things they don’t like. If you have a child and don’t want them reading certain content, monitor their reading. I’m sorry this will have to make you act like a responsible adult and actually get you involved in your child’s life, but eh, life ain’t fair.

    This is a selfish act of one man that will turn into the the collabrative selfish act of the sheep that will follow him. I don’t like mustard, spinach, cauliflower, the color yellow, snakes, bees and scorpions. WE SHOULD BAN THEM ALL!!!

  11. I have been a high school English teacher for eleven years. I am also a YA book lover. Sometimes those mix well and sometimes not; but I always share my love of a new book with my students. In the case of Speak, it was MY STUDENTS that shared their love of this book with me. I was told time and time again, “Ms. Hodgens, you have to read this book. It is one of the best books I’ve ever read.” This came from both male and female students. What surprised me most was that I had a couple of students who came to me in confidence to say they felt that this book was speaking to them, offering a voice to the invisible victims of rape. The title alone offers this to its readers and potential buyers – SPEAK, a reminder that in a society where TMI seems to be the norm, there are still those that are true victims that cannot seem to find a voice.

    To say that this book is pornographic in nature defiles what it means to be raped. It is a slap in the face to every victim and only encourages those victims to remain silent.

  12. I can’t believe that anyone who has actually read Speak would think that 1) porn is a proper adjective for it and 2) that having this book in the hands of young people is dangerous. I also find it surprising that Scroggins picked out Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer as another YA book to challenge. Shouldn’t we be encouraging teens to “use their condoms for sex”? Both of these books feature young women dealing with traumatic experiences and finding empowerment. Perhaps that is what Scroggins is afraid of.

  13. My heart is aching for you, LHA, and for all your readers. I remember when I heard (in HS) that the book that changed my life, A Wrinkle in Time, had been targeted. I was sick at heart and then furious that others would seek to take away experiences in books from me. When I heard why they wanted to ban it (the part where the witches help the kids see that many voices have been lifted up against IT on Earth–and that these voices included, but were not LIMITED to Jesus), I felt a giant wave of something else. I don’t know if I can name it. But I knew that was the VERY section of the book that swelled up my soul and left it different forever. And I thought, with a kind of power, “You had BETTER be afraid of this book and other like it. Because they take AWAY the kind of narrowness of thought you ascribe to and wish to force on others. Because they show another way to look at the world. Because they give HOPE and STRENGTH and do not pander to fear.”

    I feel that again today. They had BETTER BE AFRAID of books like this. And they will not win.

  14. I was so outraged and angry when I read this article that I started to cry. You have helped so many people with this book, that you should only be hearing praises. I pray that SPEAK isn’t banned.

  15. I have read and taught this book. It has opened the mouths and hearts of many, many teens! It should never be banned from any library. Pornography???? You’ve got to be kidding, there isn’t even any sex act depictions. I concur, the idea that this person who would have the book banned finds sexual eroticism in the act of rape is very disturbing!!

  16. I’ve blogged about this on my book blog, Bookishgal, in the context of Banned Books Week.

    This really is an abomination. This says far more about the contents of that individual’s own mind than about the contents of your book.

  17. I picked this book up in my high school library, and I was so shocked by the turn the book took. The cover had hinted at the dark topic covered, but I didn’t realize how hard the book would hit me. I am proud to have read this, and proud that it was available to me. Simply hiding an emotional trauma brings more disaster to an already delicate and horrible situation. The courage that character had shown in this book has given me the courage to face my own situations. I’ve never been raped, but its certainly a situation that can happen to anyone. Don’t ban this book, it’s such an important topic for adolescents who are growing up, still unsure of themselves and their bodies. There are plenty of people willing to take advantage of that. Don’t let the younger generation down by denying them an important, informative book.

  18. I’ll admit I was raised to think independently and explore the world around me so I have a really hard time when people want to banned things without giving people a choice.

    I teach my students about banned books. In fact I TEACH them banned books. WHY? because if you just tell kids don’t do that inevitably they will do it anyway but without you to help guide them. SO yes we read and talk about banned books, we talk about the themes and reasons people try to get books banned. Understanding perspective and content gives students the chance to SPEAK for themselves, to make mistakes and know they are not alone. Books open up lines of communication that otherwise might be impossible. After all it is easier to talk about a character’s experience than your own even if they are the same.

    Instead of banning books people should be encouraging parents and children to read together and communicate about the hard stuff that otherwise may not be talked about.

  19. While I believe many of his arguments to valid, he forgets one thing. Rape has nothing to do with religion.

    The first time I read Speak, I was in middle school. It really spoke to me. I was raped when I was 10. It was discovered right away, but I had a hard time telling my friends.

    I read it again in high school. I think that it was something that is important to read about. High school is a time where people start experimenting with alcohol, sometimes even sooner.

    I think that you did an awesome job writing this story. Thanks for having the courage to put yourself out there and write something that most people wouldn’t.

  20. Recently in BC, a 16 year old girl was drugged and gang-raped at a rave. Cell phone pictures were posted by a 16 year old boy with no thought of the fact that this girl is forced to relive that horrendous experience time and time again. If more of the young people involved had read “Speak,” and gained insight into how insidious and horrendous rape is, the situation might have been prevented. I have given “Speak” to countless young women, including my own three daughters. I wish I had given it to more young men. This is an important book that NEEDS to be available.

  21. I am an elementary education major at Missouri State University and am completely disgusted by this. I read Speak as part of a children’s literatue course and thought it was amazing. I fully intend on using it in my classroom in the future (assuming I am teaching upper elementary).

    “My fear is that good-hearted people in Scroggins’ community will read his piece and believe what he says.” No need to be worried; not everybody in southwest Missouri is ignorant.

  22. This book is INSPIRATIONAL. Melinda was brave, brave enough to stand up and face the people who hated and judged her, who didn’t understand. Pornographic? What book is he reading, IF he’s read it at all. I love your books. They all have extraordinary meaning and you should be exhaulted for having the guts to write them. Not banned. We love you Laurie and I promise to do what I can to put this guy in his place and spread the word. World Wide Web… I come!

  23. Sometimes, I’m ashamed to live in a society where someone would try to tell a child that a horrible, disgusting act FORCED upon them AGAINST THEIR WILL is the same thing as soft core porn which is CONSENSUAL.

    It’s hard enough for a teen to talk to someone about sexual assault without being sent the message that no one wants to hear about it by taking this book off the shelves.
    I hope the people of Missouri will do the right thing.

  24. Thank you for your post, Laurie. I’m sputtering with rage and I haven’t even read the book yet. It’s on my wish list, though, and now I’m of the mind to buy it as soon as possible, read it, and review it. I’m certain it’s an important book, now more than ever. Wish I could buy the whole lot of them and give them out in support. Banning books is wrong. Trying to hide reality or twisting it to suit one’s (skewed) agenda: also very, very wrong. Unfortunately, people like this man make me feel less and less able to identify with Christianity, but thankfully even more passionate in standing against censorship and for a writer’s right to express herself freely.

    Off to follow your links, and speak.

  25. Oh, goodness. I used to live in Springfield and work at the News-Leader. This just makes me sad.

  26. Hey Laurie,

    STUNNING poem. Looks like you’re covering the bases, but let me know if there’s anything I can do. I have heard SO many kids over the years who were helped to heal from reading SPEAK. Huge fan, as you know. Chris

  27. I love Speak, as do my students. I find Wesley Scroggins’ comments disgusting, but I do fear his influence. Those who disagree must SPEAK up!!!!

  28. This is insane. I just left a comment on Mr. Scoggins’s article over at the News Leader’s website. Here’s the post:
    As a Christian and a rape survivor, I am shocked and saddened that Mr. Scroggins has taken the view on Laurie Halse-Anderson’s book, “Speak”, that he has. He completely missed the point of the book. Much like stories in the Bible, where God shows us our inherent human nature (hello, has he READ the account of David & Bathsheba? Perhaps he thinks…based on this and numerous other stories… the Bible should be banned from libraries, too?), Ms. Halse-Anderson’s book simply shows the reality of a high school environment and the very real issues that young girls face — to speak up or not — when this “unspeakable” crime is perpetrated against them. This book provides an opportunity for parents, teachers, and church lay leaders (if they have the guts) to talk with teens about this very serious and complex subject. Shame on you, Mr. Scoggins, for trying to take this teaching tool away from them!

  29. Laurie–I know you already read my post (and thank you so much for telling me on Twitter–that was *lovely*!), but I’m linking to it here in case it helps in any way. I am so grateful for books like yours! As a survivor, I need them. And Speak is so beautifully and sensitively written.

    And I LOVE how you’ve asked people to help speak out about this. It is so important, and in your actions I see strength and courage. And I LOVE that Judy Blume has responded, too, and Paul W Hankins, and so many good people! There is sanity, after all. 🙂

    take good care,

  30. I’m very sorry that people of SW Missouri are acting like fools – again. Rest assured, we’re not all that stupid.

  31. It is astounding to me how often someone with a little bit to say tries to SPEAK for those who do not really care what they have to say. You can ban a book, but you can never control the hunger, the thirst, the desire, the quest, the thoughts, and the minds of those you purport to protect….We, as educators and ministers and governors of the people need to understand this very important concept: No one can legislate the mind. We are always free to choose. And that freedom is – though some have tried – not subject to control. A…s long as we have the soundness of our mind, each individual can choose an action and/or reaction. If you read Scroggins’ article – you will see that HE chose tunnel vision and if he indeed read SPEAK he did not comprehend SPEAK. He apparently never lived life as a teen in high school – not in any high school that I have attended, nor in which I have ever served as a teacher or psychologist. What those characters in Anderson’s novel experienced, though a fictional portrayal – is real for a lot of our young people – betrayal, ostracism, terror, sex, pain, anger, grief, cliques, marginalization, mental anguish, loss. Teens relate to these themes of life in literature.

  32. Thank you for writing SPEAK, Laurie. I recently gave it to my sister, who runs a feminist women’s health clinic that provides rape counseling services. She recommends it to some of the women she counsels as well as the teenagers who she works with in the Teen OutReach program.

    My blog post:

  33. As an alumnus from Missouri State, I apologize for this sorry excuse of a professor. Unfortunately, it’s not a safe environment for rape victims. Most are told that there is no way for their case to be prosecuted by the police and victims must run around and retell their stories time and again within the school bureaucracy. Things are changing, however. Someone is working to set up a Women’s center on campus and each year they hold a Take Back the Night with a Speak Out for survivors and their loved ones.

    I haven’t read your book, but I plan on changing that soon. Your novel focuses on a central theme for my thesis. I’m glad you wrote this book and I’m glad it’s there for survivors. Bless you.

  34. Hi Laurie. I’ve been using my website as a soapbox for Banned Books/Freedom to Read all month and will continue to do so for the next few weeks. I’m so glad you saw this — Sarah Ockler (another of the horrible, damaging authors mentioned in wingnut’s article) pointed the whole hullaballoo out earlier this week and I find it outraging. You have my full support. I actually sent an email to your assistant a while ago re: a Banned Books Week interview. The invitation is still open. The very idea that a teen girl (or grown woman) might read this guy’s opinion piece and feel that she, as a rape victim, is a dirty horrible person on account of SPEAK’s “pornographic” nature — ugh, it hurts my heart.

    Keep Speaking, Laurie. It makes a difference. <3

  35. It is truly disturbing that anyone would view rape as pornographic. That in and of itself would make me question Scroggins’ mental and moral health.

    Speak is THE novel that (no pun intended) spoke to me as a middle level educator and pulled me into the promising world of young adult literature as I recognized the ways in which it could and did help many of my struggling “tweens”, both girls AND boys, embrace reading, grapple with ideas bigger than themselves for the first time and recognize that there is an “out there” that is closer to here than they may have realized.

    Students who had no use for reading absolutely flocked to this book! Students who were on the edge of entering high school, full of expectations, worry, and choices on their doorsteps were both awoken to the grave reality to the choices they make as well as relieved to find that maybe they wouldn’t be alone in whatever sort of isolation they might feel.

    This book opened a floodgate for YA literature to spill into my classroom libraries. This book helped me witness the way the right book truly could make a reader out of a “non-reader.” This book gave me courage to enter into REAL conversations with my students about the things that matter.

    Censorship has long been an enemy to our freedoms, our collective knowledge, and our collective conscience. Would that it were not so.

    Thank you, Laurie, for keeping this issue present, current, and ever in our interests to act.

  36. Please keep Wes Scroggins OUT of our Republic, Missouri schools!! He’s a scary idiot that I truly believe should NOT be allowed to go through our school libraries. Why is someone that doesn’t have children going to this district allowed access in the hallways? His children are home schooled, he doesn’t need to stick his nose in our children’s education. “Speak” gives females strength that Scroggins will never understand.

  37. I just happened to be reading up the juridic proceedings concerning Clinton’s affairs. Before he could be judged, a definition of sexual relations needed to be defined:
    (Perjury about sexual relations from the Paula Jones deposition

    After long debates this following definition was approved: “For the purposes of this deposition, a person engages in sexual relations when the person knowingly engages in or causes:
    1. Contact with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person;

    This then does not include rape, anymore than hitting someone over the head with a baseball bat can be called “pleasure” because the aggressor happened to enjoy doing it.
    I wonder what Mr. Scoggins considers sexual relations?

    I loved your poem Laurie. Thank you

  38. I find myself continually amazed (and horrified) that a small few will continue to be justified in continuing to choose what is right for other people — especially when they have obviously no experience in what they are pontificating about. Here is a link to my blog post about Speak, which is a cornerstone title of young adult literature and a book that should not be pulled from any library.

  39. I don’t have a blog, but I will join in the snail-mail writing, and will also tell you here what I would otherwise have posted there:

    Five years ago, my high-school made reading Speak mandatory. Over the summer, everyone who was going to be attending the school in the fall–students, teachers, possibly staff as well–was told to read it. It was the first book that they decided everyone should read, regardless of grade, fondness for reading, or enrollment in a specific English class. This is how important they felt it was.

    (I read it in a few hours, entirely captivated by the past horror and the future hope. It is, incidentally, one of the few books I was ever required to read for high school that I actually enjoyed as much as the books I choose to read in my own time, and the only one that I ever subsequently bought my own copy of.)

    When we returned from summer vacation, we were divided into groups, randomly, to discuss the book. I can’t speak for all discussion groups, but I can tell you this about mine: Speak allowed us to begin a dialogue about the issues it addressed (rape; Melinda’s feeling that she can’t tell anyone; the connections between silence, social ostracism, and depression–there may have been others, but I don’t recall, if so). In fact, it compelled us to discuss those issues, because it addressed them. We would never have started that conversation without the book.

    Unfortunately, I can say that with confidence. I said, earlier, that “Speak allowed us to begin a dialogue”, and I said “begin” instead of “have” because when the discussion of the book (both the schoolwide discussion and the later conversations in English classes) was over, so was the discussion of the issues.

    If anything, high schools should use more books that people have tried to censor, not fewer.

  40. My first writing teacher recommended Speak to me, and I immediately bought it. I could not put the book down because it was so compelling. I am commenting because I am aghast that Wesley Scroggins labeled this book porn. Maybe I’m too cynical, but I suspect Scroggins is using Speak as a publicity stunt.

    Laurie, I will add my voice in support of Speak on the social network sites where I participate. Your book addressed an important subject for teens and parent with honesty and integrity.

  41. I just put up a blog, and lined it back here for more information. I’m baffled at how in this day and age, any grown man will take the words from a book (the bible) and force the beliefs that he’s formulated from that book onto anyone else, especially regarding a book.

  42. There are people in this world who speak without understanding what they are saying. Calling SPEAK pornography is, well there are no words.
    For me, SPEAK is a powerful, heartbreaking, thought provoking book about a subject people don’t like to talk about.

  43. Hang tough. People who seek to burn the truth have to be dealt with. Sometimes it takes armies as it did with Hitler and other times it can be done by one author at a time and by the people who read her books and are touched by them. We’re in this fight together.

  44. I was up last night switching trough the channels when i saw a movie coming up on Lifetime, SPEAK, and right away it caught my attention. I decided to give it a try and by the time it ended i was really touched. I loved that movie but i was also wondering if was based on a book because that would be an amazing book to read.

    Today i got on twitter and @AineFey was re-twetting everything Laurie has been posting. I gotta say when i saw she was talking about SPEAK it freaked me out alittle but i thought “this must be a sign” cause i just watched this movie LAST NIGHT!

    I cant believe someone can be so close minded to try and ban this book when so many girls will be able to relate to this story. To think of rape as pornography is just disgusting and offensive to anyone that has suffered anything like it.
    We all have that little something to shine light in our darkest time and this book might be that little ray of sunlight someone needs.
    Lets SPEAK up.

  45. Speak is amazing book! For anyone who has ever dealt with rape or any kind of sexual abuse and felt like they couldn’t tell anyone, this book is their savior. It was mine. For anyone to say that the book is pornographic is just beyond me. It’s not pornographic it’s realistic. It shows a grim reality that unfortunately bad things happen to good people and that there are ways to rectify those bad things. It makes me sick that someone could be so ignorant. Speak is a book that I will never forget because it helped me through a trying time in my life. I only pray that more people read speak and see it for the amazing book that it is.

  46. SPEAK and SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE are two of my all time favorite books, both so powerful in their own ways. How anyone can work to ban books that promote rape awareness and peace is beyond me.

    I’m so glad you’re feeling the support on this issue, and I hope it can make a difference.

  47. That man is a danger to all women if he believes that is pornograpghy. Wesley be careful – when you point a finger at someone you point three back at yourself….

  48. Disgusting.

    SPEAK has opened eyes and saved lives.

    Scroggins appears to spend most of his time in an alternate universe where not talking about a horrible reality makes it magically go away. Unfortunately for the rest of us, he doesn’t live there full-time.

    I’m sorry about this, Laurie. I’m sorry for you for being treated this way, and I’m sorry for the students whose access to books as vitally important as yours is being questioned.

  49. I am a rape survivor twice over. Once when I was in 8th grade and once when I was a freshman in college.
    SPEAK helped me, many years later, face what happened to me.
    In between were 20 years of silence and shame.

    Thank you.

  50. Reading Ariel’s comment—that Missouris State isn’t a safe place for rape victims and doesn’t even have a campus women’s center—makes me think something very good could come of all the hurt and anger this ignorant professor is causing.

    It’s not just the Missouri state education system that suffers from such destructive ideas, it’s the women on that campus who are not allowed to even SPEAK up for themselves. Getting them the book is good, yes, but getting those women further resources and support they need to rebuild their lives after such an atrocity is, I would say, even more vital.

    Is there something Ms. Anderson’s dedicated readers and supporters do to make a difference for the women at Missouri State? Is there a website or link to somewhere that people can make donations of any kind to build this women’s center and bring education about rape to everyone on that campus? It is good to combat Mr. Scroggins’ ignorance in the school system, but what can we do to combat the harmful ignorance he is perpetuating and maybe even inciting at Missouri State?

  51. While I am absolutely outraged by this man’s letter (and the fact that Slaughterhouse Five has been removed from the curriculum due to his ignorance), I am so pleased that I happen to be teaching Speak to my freshmen right now. We can read this letter in class and write rebuttals. What better way to learn than by reacting to real-life events like this!

    Thanks for all you do, Ms. Anderson. My students love your writing and I love teaching your books. We will help you fight the good fight.

  52. Springfield is my community. I go to debate tournaments in that town. That paper is delivered to my doorstop. I am sixteen years old; these are MY schools. MY friends. My dad’s best friend lives in that town. And I am so ashamed that this guy
    This is not what people around here think. My community is not this way. I am so sorry, and I promise, if Republic even comes close to banning this book, there will be an uproar not only in the literary community, but in this personal one as well.

  53. Scroggins, in seeking censorship for this book, is suggesting that it is inappropriate for our schools and libraries, and that it is un-Christian. True, there is nothing Christ-like about rape. It is an atrocious act. AND, it happens to children frequently, children who stay silent and cannot speak about it, or the social dynamics in their lives that keep them silent. Distorting the content and importance of this book, denying this book is the same as denying reality. Does Scoggins think, that in the name of Christianity, that it is better to act like this does not happen, to sweep the experiences of countless people under the rug? Maybe the Holocaust did not happen either? Is he not aware that even the Catholic Church could not do that… seems to be a theme, that Christians maybe need to shine a spotlight on? Denying “what is” in the name of God and self-protection does not make it go away, quite the opposite. It is, as Bobby Kennedy said, “Shining a spotlight on it,” that makes us able to cure our ills and overcome problems. Were Scroggins centered in his Christian values, which include compassion, he would be able to understand that the content of this book identifies the experience of hundreds of thousands of children and adults who have personally lived this story, and the feelings of the main character. There is nothing faithful or Christian about denial, and I speculate that Scroggins could be in heavy denial. I think his thinking is warped. The fact that he could use the word pornography in association with SPEAK makes me believe that he has some demons in his closet, and like a typical extremist, he is willing to intervene in subversive ways, until he is powerful enough to fight and bully to get what he wants, just so he does not have to face the truth. As my father used to say, “I’m from Missouri you’ve got to show me.” Show me the good that comes from censoring honesty.

  54. Speak helped me in so many ways. I was a victim of rape. I was raped by one of my Uncle’s who was living with my family for two years straight. Speak taught me to speak up. Let people know what happened to me. Speak taught me a lot, and I couldn’t imagine how my life would be now if I hadn’t read the book. It was a book I could relate to.

    This guy, Wesley, obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about, I read his article, and whoever calls rape ‘soft pornography’ obviously doesn’t have a clue about what goes on in life in school, or outside of it. He doesn’t understand the context of the novel obviously, as it’s not about the rape scenes, it’s about dealing with them and choosing the person you become after it. How you deal with it, and that you shouldn’t let it hold you back. It teaches you to speak.

    I’d like to thank you, Laurie Halse Anderson for you taught me to stand up, and stand up is what I’ll do for you in this instance.

  55. Show me the benefit that comes from censoring honesty and I will show you a culture that cannot survive.

  56. That poem left me weeping. All the voices you gave permission to speak.

    We must never let the Mr. Scroggins of the world shout us down. Thank you for all the wonderful books you’ve written that open doors, turn on the lights.

  57. Laurie,
    I am a secondary English and history teacher at a state hospital in North Texas. I am also a rape survivor. Most of the adolescents I work with are abuse survivors, including many who are specifically rape survivors. For these kids, dealing with depression, PTSD, isolation, and, often, their own family’s inability to adequately address the issue of sexual abuse, leads to self-harmful behaviors which in turn lead to hospitalization for many survivors. The path to wholeness is a difficult life-long journey, but your book gives survivors a voice. I keep several copies in my classroom, and they are almost always checked out. I believe Speak should be required reading for all high school students, and I am encouraged to hear of forward-thinking school districts which have made it so. I have been gradually buying enough copies of Speak with my own money in order to have a classroom set, but I am going to go ahead and buy enough so I can teach this book this year.
    I am also going to spread the word of this small-minded individual’s smear campaign against your book. This kind of ignorant hate-speech under the cloak of religion is a supreme example of why we have to be constantly alert to the influence of shame-based religious extremism. Unfortunately, in Texas, our state textbook committee is controlled by these same kind of people.
    Thank you for sharing your powerful gift of writing with the rest of the world.

  58. Thank you for writing SPEAK ~ I have gotten so much out of it. It has helped me in many ways. I believe it was God who led me to it. First, I caught part of the movie, then I looked it up on the internet and bought both the movie and the book. It has helped me on my journey to complete healing. It has helped me because I am one who does not speak, not ever about what happened to me, which happens to be very similar to what the girl in the book went through. Again, thank you Laurie Halse Anderson. SPEAK is a powerful book.

  59. I am more than happy to support you, Laurie. This book is absolutely amazing and was one of my first experiences with YA Lit (as an adult 😉 ). I happily recommend this book to all of my female students because I believe it teaches them that they do have a voice and that they don’t have to be treated as insignificant by anyone. I posted on Eve’s Fan Garden and a copy on my own school blog.

  60. As a first year English teacher I was blessed to be hired by a school system whose English department believes in the power and strength of a book’s message over its supposed adult content. During my internship year (last year) I had to write a novel justification form to my former county’s English Dept. Head just so that I could teach Speak in my class. They all thought it was a risky move for an intern to make, but I do not know of any excuse justified enough to not teach Speak in class.

    Reading the above article made me cringe. Men like Scroggins do not try to protect our children – they try to tie them up and place tape over their mouths so that they operate as obedient bodies in the system that has been constructed for their constraints. The voiceless, these children, are the last frontier of the non-acknowledged oppressed, yet they include all races, genders, sexualities, social classes, and religions. They are everychild and we must listen to them with acceptance and without fear.

    This article has inspired me to create a blog that will document my first time teaching Speak in the classroom. Recording this journey in my two freshman classes will be sure to offer some very touching and, at times, quite hilarious insights into the true and uncensored nature of teaching this book in a classroom setting.

    It has always been a dream of mine to thank those authors who have been the greatest influence in my life and it is my hope that my hero, Laurie Halse Anderson, understands my gratitude for having given me my voice. Thank You.

  61. i personally didnt really like the book…
    but there is no reason to ban it, i think people just dont want to show kids how life really is and they r trying to protect them from pain

    there is no way to protect kids from pain unless the kids understand what kind of pain there is and how they can protect themselves from it…and they can deal with if it does happen to them…

    the people that want to ban books r just closed minded people that see the world with rose colored glasses and dont really kno what can happen to anyone or how to deal with it if it does happen

    KEEP SPEAK!!!!!!!
    just like anyother book its to show how bad the world is and teach the reader how to watch for the dangers
    because of speak i kno what to look for if someone just want sex from me or my friends…no matte what bull shit they say
    i kno what to watch and im safe because of it

  62. Residing in a school district with an abstinence based curriculum, Dr. Scroggins sounds as if he relies on what he has heard about the book and the movie based on it rather than having read it or seen it for himself. Perhaps he read and watched looking for “the good stuff” while ignoring the actual story. I challenge him to read the entire book and really pay attention, watch the entire movie and really pay attention, talk to real girls (probably some in his congregation) who’ve been in similar situations and really pay attention, and then post to the News-Leader again.

    God allows us to make choices, what we do, what we say, what we read. And he forgives. Even those who are quick to judge.

  63. Dear Laurie,
    here’s why banning books is silly.
    It draws attention to the book – all the way down to Australia. Here I am, sitting in my office and I read about someone I’ve never heard of wanting to ban a book I haven’t read.

    Which makes me immediately want to read it!

    It’s the first I’ve heard of you or your novels (shame on me? Ah well, I am a long way away!) I read some glowing reviews and ordered a copy. I can’t wait to read it. I’ll probably cry at how beautifully it’s written.

  64. I am participating in a blog event called “Ban This”…a month long celebration of banned/challenged books. I chose Speak in honor of Banned Books week and am appalled to hear that this book is being challenged again! My thoughts on this exceptional book are here –>Ban This

  65. I find any kind of censorship abhorrent, but also remarkably naive. Would he have Shakespeare banned because of Titus Andronicus? I doubt it, although the violence perpetrated against women in that play is a million times more graphic and horrifying than almost anything. I think that the difficulty people have with your book, Ms. Anderson, is that it speaks from a young woman’s perspective. We’re at a cultural moment when young women find silencing gestures everywhere they go, from party politics (I think of the things Christine O’Donnell has said over the last twenty years as a talking head and in her campaign) to campus organizations. The center of my college’s campus was held hostage by 12×20 color photographs of dead fetuses and babies all this week, because the college Republicans got permission to display their propaganda under our newly created “Genocide Awareness” clause. No other students attended the last meeting of the year, they had outside funding from a PAC, and the photos appeared. Your comments about your own faith and your father’s ministry should guide you as you respond. You know that teachers, librarians, and college professors are (largely) on your side. If you know of church-based rape recovery programs who recommend your book, you should seek their support. Moderate Christians who support survivors are going to be your greatest advocates.

  66. Porn is defined as material “intended primarily to arouse sexual desire.” I have read SPEAK, and the description of what happened to Melinda is brief and focuses not on physical details but on her confusion, panic and pain. Sexual desire is the absolute last thing it would ever arouse.

    One of the many things that bothers me about the situation with Mr. Scroggins–and all situations like it–is that apparently anyone can fling around accusations without any basis whatsoever, which then force the author (and librarians, teachers, publishers, readers, etc.) into defensive positions.

    I say, the burden of proof should be on the accuser.

    When people start flinging around accusations like this, they should be challenged with questions like these:
    1) Have you read the book in question?
    2) Exactly what do you mean by pornographic? What is your definition of pornography, and how are you applying it here?
    3) You have made a serious charge. Where is your evidence?

    and, in this particular case:
    4) Exactly what is your problem with a book whose main message is to encourage young people who have been abused to speak out against their abusers?

  67. Laurie, I’m showing my support on my blog and I’m giving away 10 copies of SPEAK to keep spreading the word. I’m beyond apalled at his suggestions and feel this goes beyond just a simple book banning. I just wanted to tell you how much I admire you and loved SPEAK. I know if someone had handed this book to me when I was in midd school it would have been tremendously helpful. Thank you so much for everything you do! You are beyond amazing!

  68. Anyone who believes that rape is a type of pornography has something seriously wrong with them. Where is this guys support/evidence to have this book banned anyway? I have not personally read this book but am now going to read it and recommend it to all of my friends! I truely hope that more people will speak out against this man and that it helps stop this book from being banned!

  69. I’m sorry to report that Speak has already been pulled from the shelf in the Republic High School library. As I understand it, the reconsideration policy was not followed by the principal or any other administrators. I fear that many more books are going to be under fire very soon…

  70. RETRACTION! Speak was NOT pulled @ RHS. It was Twenty Boy Summer. My apologies. And it does seem that the reconsideration policy will be followed.

  71. As I read this I cried. Speak changed my life in ways I never, ever thought possible. We all have to speak out now. If you have read this book, and have been affected by it in any way, then you must feel that know we must do exactly what this story taught us–speak out.

  72. For six years of my life, I taught high school, and among the novels that I used, SPEAK was one of them. I blogged about the experience here:

    But the long and short of it is simply this: SPEAK told my students that they *could* speak out about their fears and doubts and bad things, and it also told them that there was someone–me, another teacher, a student, *someone*–who would listen.

    I am also a writer now. Every word in my novel is also my attempt to “speak.”

    People like Scroggins won’t listen.

    But I know others will, and that Scroggins and his ilk can’t silence a voice.

  73. Laurie,
    As a result of your post and the wonderful reading/writing community on Twitter, I was compelled to share my story. When I spoke, someone listened, and my life is not cluttered with horrible memories today. We should never be afraid to speak out.

    In sisterhood, indeed!

  74. SPEAK is an amazing book. One that I am proud to say I read and discussed with my teen-age daughter, and hopefully soon with my younger daughter.

  75. Within seconds of posting to Facebook, a dear friend responded:

    Can you believe this asshole she’s talking about? I read this book in high school and I loved it. It was one of the only books we had to read that I didn’t hear a ton of complaints about from my classmates (and they bitched about having to read in general).
    It’s hard to believe in this day and age that there are people out there so stupid and ignorant that they don’t even bother really reading the book(this dude’s initial summary of the content of the book is totally out of context!) before they write it off as smut and try to keep it out of the hands of kids who might actually learn something or be inspired to learn from reading it.
    This book is nowhere near the poisonous pile of turds that books like Twilight are(if you’re surprised by this statement you obviously don’t know me). How about banning books that tell girls to become catatonic and suicidal when their insanely possessive boyfriend leaves them instead of one that tells girls that they have the right to stand up for themselves when they’re abused, raped, and otherwise in harm’s way?
    I’m sorry for this long-winded rant, but this kind of crap really pisses me off.
    *steps down from soapbox*
    This challenge has awakened a sleeping giant. I am so happy to see the responses to this accusation, and know that readers with a conscience will rally to support you.

  76. I’ve written my letters and posted the news on Facebook and on my blog and read so many of the posts here, I’m crying. I sincerely hope Speak isn’t silenced.

  77. I have been tweeting and retweeting about this topic and posted on facebook too. I’ve also written a blog post about and will be giving away 2 copies of “Speak”.

    Don’t let the turkeys get you down!

  78. Hey Laurie… guess where I am right now. Missouri!!!!!!!!! Yay. Doing several school visits here, and you can be sure these wonderful young Missourians will be hearing a lot about censorship in the next few days!

    Keep fighting the good fight, as we all must.


  79. I recommend “Speak” to just about everyone I talk to about books. I can’t think up the right adjectives that express how I feel about this book. It is both heartbreaking and acerbically funny. It is so well written, Melinda’s voice is so strong. As a mother, I wanted to reach into the book and take her into my arms and protect her from everything. I have two daughters and when they are old enough, I will give them this book to read. It’s what is called parenting. I try my best to monitor and talk about what they read. I can’t protect them from all of the harsh realities of life, but I can help them prepare and I can be there to talk about things when they need me. To say that Speak contains pornography is ludicrous at best. It kills me to see people wasting time and energy on fabricated controversy when there are real problems in education to tackle. I love this book and to ban it from school libraries would be a tragedy.

  80. HOLY CRAP- I know I need to keep an air of anonymity with the online community, but this guy is from MY TOWN. I started reading the blog posts about this and I am totally freaking out. I just had a post on my own blog about Sherman Alexie’s book that was banned near us. Now this. I will be wrting letters to our superintendant and principals of the high schools and see what we can do.

  81. I am so glad people are doing something about this article and its possibly horrific affects. ‘Speak’ has helped me when I have been down and depressed and ‘spoke’ to me. It is precious and the world needs to know about how this book can change people’s lives; like helping bring them out of a great depression. I remember feeling especially depressed and then reading ‘Speak’ and felt glad knowing that Laurie and other people know how I feel. This book can save lives from being hurt by sexual harassment. I have depression and have been harassed. Reading ‘Speak’ again (and from other major help from my sister who I cannot thank enough!) helped me to see the horrible way I was being treated. ‘Speak’ is a shining light in a troubled world.

  82. I have yet to read SPEAK. But that means nothing to me. I do intend to read it. While I haven’t read the book, I have seen the movie, several times. I know very well that a movie is no comparison to its book, but I also know that a movie will still get the story across. But this movie helped me. The story helped me. I’m a high school student in my senior year now. I was sexually abused when I was younger. While I still haven’t exactly spoken out about my issue, SPEAK still managed to help me in different ways. After years of dealing with the emotional issues that came from what I went through, I have healed in ways that I never expected myself to. But I won’t heal completely. I still feel upset, sad, depressed even. I feel these things often, and I can’t change that about myself. But at this point, having gotten to a better place in my life, I look at my life and wonder why I feel this way. I look at my mother who I used to think hated me, but that I now realize loves me with all her heart. I look at my brothers who are so young and make my life a little bit brighter. I look at my friends who are good, and all of the opportunities that lie ahead of me after I graduate. When I look at what my life has become, I feel guilty for being upset or unhappy. But SPEAK has changed that. The emotions that I feel when I watch SPEAK are so similar to what I felt all those years ago. SPEAK reminds me why I feel the way I do. It reminds me that what I feel is not wrong because even if it has been five or six years, it doesn’t go away. But SPEAK also reminds me that I can grow. It reminds me that these things take time, and that I have a right to feel the way I do, even if my life is all-around good. SPEAK is a story that deserves to be read. So many people have been helped in ways that are more significant that mine by this story. SPEAK encourages those who have suffered abuse like this, and gives insight and perspective to those who haven’t. The children in that district shouldn’t be denied this insight or perspective simply because someone has a distorted view of what this story is. People learn from SPEAK. People are inspired and affected by SPEAK. Anybody who can’t understand the power of SPEAK should read the book to gain the perspective that they are clearly lacking.

  83. What a poem!
    Laurie, you got me to Listen…now it’s time for more Thinking…and then more Doing.

    The power of the word! Fantastic! I hope every school hears “Listen”—and pauses…

    I’m Thinking…………………………….and weep for the unenlightened.

  84. For Wesley Scroggins to describe Speak as pornagraphic due to rape content is, in my mind, a tacit admission that he finds rape titillating and arousing. He wants books like Speak banned to keep him away from temptation in the same way that certain people need a ban against gay marriage to protect their sham heterosexual marriages. Those who are in honest relationships don’t need legislative protection the honest relationships of other people, whether gay or straight. Similarly, those of us who find rape to be a repugnant and violent act do not need to be protected from art that empowers its victims. We need to be protected from misogynist associate professors of management hiding behind a cross.

  85. That poem made me cry. It’s so beautiful that you gave people a chance to feel like they can talk again. I’ve not read Speak yet but I intend to soon.

    I wrote a post here about my own personal experiences with books.

  86. Laurie,

    I am so horrified that anyone would seek to silence rape. There just are no words. I wanted to blog about it last night, but I found myself too angry to get the words out. It takes a lot to shock me into wordlessness.

    I blogged about it at this morning. I included links to your blog and the blogs of bloggers I feel have addressed this issue well.

    I Speak Loudly and I hope everyone else will too.


    Jennifer Welborn

  87. I read what this guy is saying, and aside from thinking he’s a complete wackado, I think he missed the mark on sarcasm.
    I always assumed that certain parts of speak were meant to be sarcastic or satirical in a fun teen angst kind of way. Then I go to Mr. Scroggins third paragraph. Um, what? I don’t think you’re line about cheerleaders getting group rate abortions at prom was meant to be taken literally. (Forgive me if I’m putting the wrong context to your words.)
    I read Speak when I was in college and it changed my life, for the better. It was like “Wow, someone really gets this.”
    I’d also like to say that one of my favorite parts of Speak were the fact that her family was a little dysfunctional, who’s family isn’t, really? And I loved the art class scenes. It was just an amazing book.
    Thank you for writing it!!

  88. I actually studied your book in university as part of a cross-cultural study on children’s lit. I thought your book was really well written, and enjoyed it a great deal, even as a 30 year old. Frankly, I wish that it had been available to me when I was eleven or twelve–I was sexually assaulted at that age, and since none of the books that I had access to talked about girls my age being treated that way, I thought that it didn’t happen to anyone else, and assumed if it was just me, it must be my fault. I think, in a world where sexual abuse still happens to children, it is critical to make your book available, so that kids can have a safe place where they don’t feel alone in their experiences. Not feeling so terribly alone can help to alleviate guilt, and removal of guilt can help to speed up recovery from such a horrible, traumatic experience.

    Thank you for writing this book, and I wish you all the best in your fight against such short-sighted, ignorant critics.

  89. Ms. Anderson, I just have to say you have my support. I read “Speak” and I thought it was very empowering. Fantastic novel!

    Just a few moments ago, I received a group email from a religious-affiliated library organization in which the writer asked our opinion of this situation. Needless to say, I went on quite a rant about it. 🙂

    As a parent myself, I emphatically resent others’ attempts to tell me what is and is not appropriate reading material for my children. As a librarian, I know that right belongs to the parents, and ultimately, the readers.

    I look forward to reading your other books. Thank you!

  90. Hello Laurie – Thank you for writing such an amazing book for young adults! I have a whole new crop of preservice teachers/grad students this semester and will be sharing/promoting/singing praises for your book today and tomorrow in class.

    As a former high school English teacher, I loved sharing this book with my studnets – it would circulate like mad & I was giddy at just how they consumed your work and spoke about it with care and intelligent discourse. Not one of my students EVER implied that they were aroused by ‘soft core porn’.

    As a parent, I cannot wait to share your work with my children! They are 2 and4 now, and LOVE your children’s books…ZOE is one of our all-time favorite characters!
    When you signed a copy of SPEAK for my daughter, you wrote, “Emma – never fear, speak your mind.”

    What a truly wonderful message for our girls. Thank you for fighting this good fight!

  91. He either never read it, or he is an idiot. I do think that there are many books in the children/young adult sections that are inappropriate, but Speak is hardly one of them, and to call it pornography is laughable. If people ban your book they will be encouraging silence, which is the last thing anyone would want if they care at all about their children.

  92. I wrote letters to the editor of the News-Leader, the principal of Republic, and the superintendent of Schools. I received brief responses from the principal and superintendent this morning so at least I know they received the emails.

    As H. Jackson Brown, Jr. said, “The greatest ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about.” Scroggins’ commentary is clearly motivated by fear and it’s very apparent that he has not read the books he has so wrongly judged as ‘filthy and demeaning.’ What’s demeaning is how little faith he has in the Republic students and their ability to address and learn from important issues.

  93. I am buying Speak today because of this. Although I never agree with banning books, the potential for banning a book because it portrays rape is abhorrent!

  94. I would start off by reminding the professor about all the sex and violence in the Bible. David and Bathsheba, anyone? If Speak is offensive, then the Bible is doubly so and should also be removed.

    I think we bibliophiles need to respond to such efforts by encouraging everyone to buy the book in question. Buy a copy and give it as a gift. I promise you by trying to ban the book this idiot has made it even more popular than it already was.

    I personally have not read the book. But rest assured that I intend to buy a copy and read it.

    Do you think this moron is related to that pastor in Florida who wanted to burn the Koran?

  95. I loved Speak so much. I was 13 when I read it for the first time and it was probably the first serious book I read. It changed my outlook on life and convinced me the importance of speaking out and not being ashamed, not just for rape but bullying. It gave me the confidence I needed to tell my parents what was going on and get help. Without books like Speak, people miss out on so much. Books should challenge you and encourage you, which is what Speak does. I have recommended it to all of my friends because of that. That man has no idea what he is talking about and he is the one who should be ashamed by his comments. I just seriously hope he doesn’t have a negative impact on victims, his article is pathetic and should be banned.

  96. Now that I’ve gotten over my initial shock- sorry about the previous post. I was floored. I am trying to get people from my town to write to the Superintendent about this. Since I am from the same town and my daughter goes to the same school district, I feel it is my responsibility to try to overturn this- espcially the decision about Slaughterhouse Five that has alredy been made. I wrote a blog about it too (, and posted on facebook to get it out there. I linked to this and other sites about it as well.

  97. Pingback: Speaking Out
  98. I found Speak in the youth section of the public library when I was in 7th grade. I had experienced sexual assault and I was a cutter, and I had walled myself off so much not much could reach me. But this book did, i was grateful for the honesty and a voice besides my own to say the things i was feeling, things too scary to tell my mother or my friends. And considering the situation outside of myself, gave me perspective to see ME beyond that pain.

    Thank you.

  99. Mrs. GGGGGGGG is my teacher at XXXXXXXXXX and she showed us this today. I am also a rape victim and right after I got raped I was sent to a mental facility for my suicide attempts and then after that I was sent to jail for some things I did prior to my rape and I was left alone with a lot of thoughts and developed self-loathing towards myself in result of this rape. Then, while I was locked up, I read your book Speak for the first time and it opened my eyes to the fact that there are other people out there who understand and that I can heal. I realized it is not my fault and I am strong enough to overcome this. I believe your book can help many. Thank you.

  100. hi my name is tara first of all i can relate to this book because i have been raped i know what you are thinking why a thri-teen year old get raped? well my mother’s friend is the one now i am at a mental hospital for depression.
    the reason why is because i dont let any thing out i bottle things up.
    i really do love your this book i can read it a thousand times and never get tired of it but i am doing a lot better thank you for listening to me but you are the best author! i mean but i never understood a book like this!!! your a good author your books are like therpous, and i am the best reader now i am the greatest now i love to read when i read your book thank you for listening! bye

    p.s. GREAT BOOK!!!!!!!!
    sincerely Tara c.

  101. I am also a rape victim and right after I got raped I was sent to a mental facility for my suicide attempts and then after that I was sent to jail for some things I did prior to my rape and I was left alone with a lot of thoughts and developed self-loathing towards myself in result of this rape. Then, while I was locked up, I read your book Speak for the first time and it opened my eyes to the fact that there are other people out there who understand and that I can heal. I realized it is not my fault and I am strong enough to overcome this. I believe your book can help many. Thank you.

  102. I am proud to be on this blog in support of you and your novel Speak. Though I have yet to read it I’ll have you know that my local library has well over 35 people requesting one copy alone, which made me run to the nearest B&N and purchase this novel.

    As a victim of sexual abuse when I was younger I find that this book might have helped me cope and understand things a little better and have something to lean on knowing that I wasn’t alone, also allowing other students to know the troubles victims go through. I plan on reading this novel and when I’m done I’ll shout it to the roof tops and get the word out that this mans judgement should be nothing more than a judgement and ignore his request.

  103. Speak was probably my favourite book when I was about fifteen or sixteen, back when it was first published over here in the UK. I read it over and over, because it spoke profoundly to my heart. I’m glad to say I never went through the horrors Melinda experienced, but I was an outsider and deeply unhappy, and Speak was a comfort, showing me that I wasn’t alone.

    I was absolutely furious when I read this idiot Scroggins’ argument to have such an important, valuable book banned from schools in a misjudged plea to protect young people. Pretending there is no danger will not protect vulnerable people, and when it’s too late it would be to deprive them of something that can help them heal. I’ve read so many people’s comments that have said that Speak gave them the courage to tell someone when something bad has happened to them. Your poem (which made me cry) is proof. It is very worry that the idiot Scroggins is more upset about a book depicting a girl trying to cope with the aftermath of rape than the realities of heartbreaking numbers of girls – and boys, women and men – across the world and even no doubt among the very young people he claims he wants to protect – who have experienced such horrors first hand.

  104. I have not had a chance to read Speak yet. It has been on my to read list for a while. However, victims should not feel that they are doing something wrong by speaking up about their attack, or by taking back the control that was ripped from them during their attack. Victims need to be able to talk about what happened to them so that they can heal from their experience. Victims need to know they aren’t the only ones who have experienced the heartache they’re feeling; they need to know they aren’t alone. And, if Speak does or can do that, then it’s worth reading.

  105. I did not read Speak until I was an adult pursuing my MLIS. I wish I had found it as a teenager, when I was cutting myself everyday. At the time, I felt incredibly alone and isolated, and it wasn’t until I was pursuing that MLIS that I realized that the cutting and mental health problems that I experienced were actually quite common behaviors. It would have been nice to have known I wasn’t alone, and that help was possible. I was very lucky. So many others are not. Speak is a beautiful, important book. We need more books that accurately portray the many facets of childhood and adolescence, even the unpleasant ones because that is the reality. Scroggins is failing to recognize that the books he wishes to ban are the lives children are living. Work on improving their lives rather than destroying the one place where they can find comfort and understanding. Thank you, Laurie Halse Anderson, for writing this book.

  106. Laurie, I can hardly believe this is happening. This man is either completely clueless, or very malicious. I am leaning toward the latter, though. I can’t believe any of your books can be referred to in an article about “pornographic, immoral and unchristian” literature. That anyone might call “Speak” those horrible names! And to want to keep it out of reach of the people who might need it most! This is outrageous!

    So many lives have been touched by this book. So many abuse victims have found solace and understanding through it. So many boys have gotten to understand the serious issues that it discusses. So many adults have gained a new perspective on teen life. So many readers have spent marvelous hours enchanted by your writing talents. And now this person stands up and spits on the face of each and every one of us, not to mention the horrible statements he makes about you as an author? Man, my blood is boiling. We can’t just sit back and let this happen!

    I am not a US resident, so there isn’t much I can do political-wise or community-wise or whatever it is that can be done, but I’m certainly spreading the word among everyone I know, in the USA or not. Surely, all these voices crying out in unison, speaking up for Melinda and you, will make a difference. I am still praying about this whole thing, though, just to make sure. 😉 Stay strong, we’re all here to back you up.

  107. Keep on doing your thing, LHA. Job well done. I will continue to teach Speak in my classes, regardless of jack***es like this Wesley guy. I just went off on the News-Leader’s website.

  108. I am especailly outraged by Mr. Scroggin’s editorial because I am a student at Republic High School, where Speak is currently being reviewed.
    I read the book in class my freshman year, and before that, in 8th grade during my free time. I thought it was a powerful read, and I just want to say, thank you for writing it.
    I would like for you to know that the issue of banning the book (as well as Slaugherhouse Five and Twenty Boy Summer) was discussed in my English class today, and most of, if not all of the students in my class wanted to keep the books in our library and curriculum.
    I even know for a fact that Speak has made a deep impression upon the lives of some of my friends.
    In my opinion, Speak does not encourage us to have sex, use drugs, swear, disrespect adults, or underperform in school. It encourages us to read.
    I hope the adults in my district who make book-banning decisions know that. It would also be nice if they read the book first.
    Thank you for getting the news out.
    I fully support Speak and all of its importance.

  109. What I find most disturbing about this is that your book is just the exact opposite of the types of books that do get banned – however wrongfully so. Your book is actually coming to the rescue for tweens and young adults, and I shudder to think of the teens in this community who will grow up confused about sex, rape and pornography because one person took advantage of his authority to force his skewed views on his readers.

  110. Please excuse me for writing Mr. Scroggins’ name incorrectly. I intended to write Mr. Scroggins’, not Mr. Scroggin’s.

  111. Hi! I’m a fan of Speak and wrote about it on my blog. Also I sent off and email. You wrote a wonderful book which speaks to all bullied girls and deals some thing so horrendous that Scroggins’ “Soft Porn” comment outs him as a disturbed individual.

  112. It’s been an extrememly long day for me, and to come home and see this? Heartbreak. First of all, let me just point out that not every Missourian is this…small minded and ridiculous. This man is just one of the many in the world who have to find something to whine and moan about — he obviously didn’t do his research when he wrote his “statement” because then he would have realized what kind of wall of support was behind this book.

    My experience with Speak? Well, I have two. The first time I read this book I was 14 years old and the only contact that I had had with the opposite sex were a few chaste kisses here and there. I was absolutely terrified of sex… I was also absolutely terrified of the world. I had pretty good idea of what I would like to do with my life, but at the time I was too busy being swept up in the drama of being a little too in love with my best friend. When I read Speak, I finished it in two hours. I didn’t move. From page one I was hooked and I spent those two hours crying, screaming, and feeling so many painful lumps leap about my internal organs that I was sure I was going to die. This was probably the most serious book I had read by that point — at least one that I understood. By the time I was done I was a changed woman — I realized that certain friendships of mine should be re-evaluted, I should speak up about how I felt about certain things, and above all I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted to write half a well as Laurie Halse Anderson did and move people, help people… Inspire people.

    Fast forward 4 years: High school graduation night. In three months I was going to leave for university and work on my achieving my English degree for writing. I had new friends from who I hung out at 14. I was still completely in love with my best friend, and we had been spending more time together than usual. Add a few wine coolers later at the after party and I was alone with him. He began kissing me… Things went by fast. Before I knew it things were happening that I wasn’t prepared for. I said No. Multiple times. I cried and when I screamed he put his hand over my mouth. There went my virginity, my best friend, and the only boy I had ever loved became a monster. I spent the summer trying to make things about that night right in my head. He was my best friend, after all — and I loved him. I knew that for sure. So then… Maybe it was a mistake? We never spoke of that night again. But I walked around campus my freshman and sophomore years a completely different person and I found it hard to focus on certain things. I couldn’t hold a stable relationship. My friends didn’t really know how to deal with my baggage that I refused to talk about.

    Then the spring trimester my sophomore year I took a YA Lit course and we read Speak. I read it with a whole new outlook and it felt like an entirely different novel. I became angry… at him. I finally let him have it. I screamed and I cried and I pounded his chest. He tried to argue it. I just punched him in the face. Re-reading Speak gave me the courage to face my own silent demons — whereas Melinda stayed quiet, I stayed in denial. To this day, I do not know where I would be or who I would be if it weren’t for this book. I always recommend it to my professors, friends, and patrons at the library I work at. It’s life altering…in the best way possible.

    This book gives people hope.

    Thank you, Laurie. I will forever be in your debt.

  113. I’ve read the article and Scroggins never requests the books to be banned. Wow! He is expressing a desire for parents and taxpayers to use caution and get involved in the material the school is using.

    Are you saying he is not entitled to express his opinion in a public forum???

  114. Is there a non-YouTube video posted online? I work at a school that blocks YouTube. However, during Banned Books Week, I’d like to have teachers show the video of Laurie reading her poem. We have a 20-minute period in the morning for silent reading–this would be a perfect time for all classes to watch before reading!

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  116. The truth and raw, honest emotion in Speak made me want to write Y/A. Laurie, you brought something vital into the world with this book, and it’s horrifying that someone is targeting it for his own agenda. I have confidence that everyone who has been touched by your work will make themselves heard and stop this insanity. Speak will not be silenced.

  117. This is crazy! Rape is not a pornography! I absolutely loved Speak. I think everyone should read it because it really opened my eyes to the real evil going on in the world. It helped me be more careful. Also, I related to Melinda in being a ninth-grader and being alone. Speak is EXCELLENT; it should not be banned. Others shouldn’t be deprived of reading it.

  118. Banning “Speak” will only make rape victims feel even more alone and victimized. This book can be a help for someone in that situation to open up and seek help. Anyone who views a rape scene as pornographic obviously doesn’t understand the concept of rape. There’s nothing attractive about it. And in no way does it corrupt young minds; in fact, reading how dramatically it can affect people probably would make children more careful about sex in the first place.

  119. Keep fighting the good fight!!! I teach junior high at a conservative parochial school and the double standard here is shocking–parents are concerned about what their kids read in school, but 5th graders use the f-word all the time on the playground and at lunch. I have 6th graders who have watched The Hangover and Shutter Island, and yet the community is all concerned about what we read?? I hope that professor is equally concerned with what is playing at the local movie theater and on cable television.

  120. @Girl from Shangri-La:

    It doesn’t matter that you are not a U.S. citizen, your voice is still important. Censorship is censorship no matter where you live and, given today’s fast-moving information environment, opinions such as Dr. Scroggins’ can be viewed all over the world. Those who would ban books in other countries would be more than happy to use Dr. Scroggins’ opinions as “proof.”

    The good news is, y0ur opinion can be seen the world over, too. I am very glad you chose to “Speak.” Thank you.

  121. I don’t normally comment on things like this, but this post called out to me. I found SPEAK as a senior in high school, after many years of abuse. It took me 3 years and several times of reading it before I spoke out and admitted what had happened. I’ve read the book probably about 8 times since and seen the movie 3 or 4 times. SPEAK is probably my most worn, most marked-up book, because everytime I read it I find more of myself in Melinda. I find it incredibly sad that this person who claims to be on this campaign for Christ is trying to take away access to a book that I’m sure has helped millions of girls like me find healing and their voice again. It almost makes me feel as though sometimes “Christian” people don’t want to admit things like this happen…but they do. Thank you, Mrs. Anderson, for writing this.

  122. Over the years, I have found that reading, drawing, and writing helps me cope. In middle school, I started to read more and more of the books in the young adult’s section of the library rather then the adult section I was so use to. Mid-way through the school year, I came across SPEAK, and it left me confused and scared because it brought some things that had happened to me out of the shadows.

    At the time, I knew that I had been repressing memories and I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to know any of the other things that had, and were, happening to me. I am a survivor of childhood sexual assault and many forms of rape, and I would just like to say thank you. Winter Girls has helped me with my struggle with EDNOS, and Speak helped me to relive those painful nights so that I could start my recovery process and seek help. Your books have made and amazing impact on my life, and for that, I can never thank you enough.

    No one sould be denied the opportunity to find comfort, realization, or help within the things they read, no matter what others think.

  123. I had to read Speak as a senior at Emerson College, for my Children’s Writing class. Both myself and my roommate at the time have been sexually abused in the past. Speak sent us both into panic attacks. I have not read the book since, and likely will not ever read it again.

    However, I do think that Speak is a book that needed to be written, and needs to be read. Not banned.

  124. I read Speak when I was thirteen, in eight grade. That, year, I lost all my friends at high school (high school in Spain starts in the 7th grade, till senior year; there’s no middle school). The new ones and the childhood ones. Because I didn’t want to party and drink in the streets and have sex with everyone like everyone did then because they’d turned thirteen and smoked and where so cool. I was alone. I was isolated. I went to class, day after day, and no-one spoke to me. Only the teachers. I got all straight As in class. I read. I liked wearing dresses and cute shoes. And people hated me even more because of this. Because of daring to be different and not following the flock.

    If it hadn’t been for books and my Internet friends, I don’t know what I couldn’ve done. My family was tearing apart. I was an only child, as Melinda. When reading Melinda I understood her, I knew she was much worse than I was, I knew I had to be strong, for us both. I knew if she could, I could stand up and face them, no matter how bad things got.

    I did it.

    I finish valedictorian at high school. I got into university.

    Now, I’m an English student and I live in another city, an hour away from my hometown.

    I don’t care about the past. I’ve met people who love me because of who I am, whom I love.

    I write.

    I’m determined to be a writer.

    So that I can help other people who feel bad. Who feel terribly alone in this mad world.

    So I can help them see there’s more in life. Things worth living. Obstacles than can be overcome.

    Thank you for your book, Laurie. I’ll never forget that. Gracias.

    Laura, 19 years old, Spain.

  125. Laurie- I wanted to let you know, that the controversy made the front page of the News-Leader (the same paper the editorial by Mr Scroggins was in). I’m linking to the online News-Leader, and the article is in the box at the top left. It has a quote from you and from Sarah Ockler. It doesn’t say much…but it does give procedures the the Springfield School District takes when reviewing books. This is not the same district as Republic though. Republic is just a small town about 15 minutes outside of Springfield.

    I also wrote to the Superintedent as a concerned parent (my daughter attends kindergarten there) and I got a reply that said “Thank you for your letter”. That was it. Thought you’d want to know.

  126. I first read Speak after being raped at 17. Without having read the book I don’t know if I would have told anyone about what had happened. I wouldn’t have gotten the help that I needed. I don’t think I would have been alive to graduate High School the following year. I wouldn’t have made it to college. I wouldn’t be working on my psych degree in hopes of a career helping other teens. I’m where I’m at today because of this book. It’s great to see that it has had a positive impact for others in their healing and it leads me to wonder how many others it has helped and will help. I can’t help but wonder about those teens that so badly need to read this book to see that they aren’t alone, who need the encouragement to speak out and get help and won’t because this book isn’t in their school library or talked about in class.

  127. Laurie- I ran a YA reading group a few years ago and read and discussed Speak with a group of 13-15 year olds. No one in the group – boys or girls- ever found the rape scenes to be pornographic or arousing in any way that I know of. It was later voted as one of the ‘best’ books we had read for the entire group.

    Speak provoked discussion about how we relate to others in the world around us and how easy it is to overlook other people’s problems and all0w them to fall through the cracks.

    The most painful observation I got from these students was that every single one of them said that they absolutely thought the story was plausible- could, in fact, see it happening easily at the large, well-funded, high-scoring suburban high school they all attended.

    Speak is an important book. These issues must be talked about- how ironic that this man is trying to ban and silence a book that is about the pain and terrible consequences of keeping silent!?!

    Keep fighting the good fight- millions of readers, booksellers, publishers, authors and students are behind you!

  128. I couldn’t believe it when I heard about this article. This is an extremely important book to me, one I advocate for and encourage everyone I meet to read. I will make a concerted effort to have all my children, boys and girl, read this book.

    I had to write about it on my blog. I’m doing a “Banned Books Week” thing anyway, and so far it seems I’ve convinced at least one person to buy it.

    Fair warning though, my language isn’t exactly “clean” on my post. But I don’t believe it should detract, especially for my readers.

    Seriously though, on my blog, facebook, anyone who will listen. The irony that a man would want to silence this message and the all-too-many girls who have and will need it in the future, is not beyond me. He wants to silence Miranda and all those who relate with her.

    It’s horrifying.

    And I’m even more horrified by his misleading representation of the novel. Those who will read his article and tend to his side of thought will not second-guess him, and it’s too bad because it’s not at all what he said it was.

    Such a great book.

  129. No worries, my friend. I am a Republic High School student, and I, as well as majority of my school and community, believe Dr. Scroggins is completely wrong about Speak, as well as Slaughterhouse 5. I think it is completely ridiculous to ban these books; the things that make them “controversial”, also make them the most real. We don’t live in a world of unicorns and clouds; a lot of this world is bad, and having literature portraying this side of the world and helping us understand it, educates us even more. We need to know all sides of the debate to truly form an opinion of the world. By initiating the banning of these books, Scroggins is causing students, as well as the whole community, to lose important knowledge and analysis of our environment.

  130. Because of this campaign, I was also encouraged to share my story again. Most of my family didn’t/doesn’t support me because my abuse was at the hand of my brother-in-law. However, knowing that there are others who have felt or dealt with the same thing I have, I know I can heal from this tragedy. It took me 16 years before I put my foot down and told my brother-in-law to stay away from me. Now, my parents think I’m breaking up my family and causing rifts. I know better, even if they don’t. Thank you so much for writing a book that helps victims have a voice. I’m sure it will help me as well when I get a chance to read it.

  131. I agree my Republic friend! This is a wonderful book. We as a community will not allow Wes Scroggins to strong arm his way into our youth’s seeking knowledge. I’ve never seen more teenagers reading than the past two days, yay, something great is coming out of his negativity! I am a Christian, but know that this world is full of pain, war and unpleasant situations. We must all learn how to deal and live through difficult situations even when they are not pretty. Republic stand up and speak!

  132. I agree. I read this book a few years ago when my daughter was assigned it in high school and it sparked several good conversations between us. It is a great book. I live about 30 min away from Republic. MO where this guy is being so ridiculous. I apologize. Not all people in the Ozarks are like him.
    I’m afraid that he he believes that rape is not to be talked about.
    Or that is is always the girl”s fault.
    How very sad.

  133. I will be posting about this and I will have this posted in my sidebar. This makes me very upset. Life is full of tragedy and books like this can help an individual realize they are not alone. Possibly, helping them take one step outside of the darkness. Thank you for your wonderful books.

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  135. This is truly, truly appalling, and huge support and thanks to you, Laurie, for standing up for your book and for all those too afraid to Speak for themselves. I’ve blogged about the topic, but I’ll just post my closing words here:

    Sexual violence is not pornography. Sexual violence is a crime. To anyone who reads Speak and honestly finds it pornographic, I’d like to offer this quote, from Carlos Ruiz Zafón: Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.

  136. Thank you, Laura! I’ve been meaning to write something in Spanish (my native language) about this for my friends but couldn’t. I’ll be sharing the link to your blog with every Spanish speaker I know. Rock on!

  137. Our newspaper, The Springfield New Leader, just ran another 2 stories:

    “Drury Student Reports Sexual Assault” @ frat house


    “No charges filed; victim declines charges”

    Both of which seem rather timely given the other subject matter of the paper. Of course, I am 100% unfamiliar with the situation, and I have no idea if the accusation was correct or not.

    I am familiar with the “sweep it under the rug” local mentality, which causes me to question any story of this nature.

  138. Email:

    Mr. Scroggins,

    I do not appreciate you attempting to come between me and my child. It is up to me what I deem appropriate, and I do not wish you to become the sole judge of morality in my child’s school system.

    I know that parents can opt their children into or out of the viewing of material you find questionable. I suspect we might even agree on some things. However, you are so worried about what “rights” people don’t have that you are attempting to take away what they do have.

    I read SlaughterHouse 5 in High School. I checked it out from the Republic High School Library. I do not mind if your children do not. When my child is in high school I do not care if she reads it. Are you so bad at parenting that you need the school board to do your job for you?

    You are aware what goes on in the classroom. That is good. You have voiced your concern (freedom of expression). Now, kindly parent your own children and leave the rest of ours alone.

    Most Sincerely,

    William Bilyeu
    Father of a Republic Student

  139. My 13-year-old daughter loved SPEAK. I read it too and it provided the basis for some very important conversations about life, sex, and how to handle dangerous situations. She had previously read Sarah Dessen’s book “Just Listen” so we were able to talk through how two very different young women worked through similar situations in very different ways. Talking about the book gave my daughter a way to express some of her own fears and it gave me the chance to give her some advice and guidance in a non-preachy setting.

    Thank you for all that you’ve written and we look forward to what’s yet to come!

    (and you’re in SUCH good company on the Frequently Challenged Books lists! )

  140. I find Dr. Scroggins’ comments to be ignorant and offensive – how dare he invoke the values upon which our nation was founded in an attempt to silence books?

    SPEAK is a vital, incredible, life-changing book. It is so important that people have access to this book, and other books that shine a light upon the difficult issues that teenagers face. I have written to the newspaper that published Scroggins’ editorial, and I have commented on the editorial. I have a post going up on my blog about this at

    Thank you for your books. Thank you for speaking out about this attempt at censorship.

  141. I read speak when I was in the 8th grade and it moved me so much! I cried so hard when i read it! I feel that all young women and people in general should read it. It not only has a real life situation to it but it also shows the struggle the main character fought coping with what had happened to her. And I believe that its great material to teach our future generations with b/c rape and sexual abuse isn’t something that happens once in a while, it happens everyday to millions of people and this book’s message is so powerful and states that if this happened to you or some one you care about- all you have to do is SPEAK.
    In my honest opinion i think man should take his head out of his ass and reread the book and study it instead of reading it once and realize that main theme in this book is to not shut up and deal with something as bad as being raped but to speak up be heard and get justice for what had been done against your will.

  142. This is ridiculous. It doesn’t even matter what this book is about (I haven’t read it, but my understanding is that it’s a poignant, important story). Banning books doesn’t work. You may as well try to ban knowledge.

    Literacy and literature are both human rights as far as I’m concerned. I let my daughters read any book that they are interested in. If I’m concerned about the content, I read it myself as well, so that we can discuss it together, as a Family. It’s the culture of fear and abstinence and censorship that makes these kind of topics seem more terrible than they actually are. Rape and sexual abuse are horrible things no matter what, but if you try to sweep them under the carpet and pretend they don’t exist then the evil behind them becomes compounded exponentially.

  143. I have never forbidden a book but I *do* sometimes ask my daughter to wait until she was older. I didn’t want her reading Diary of Anne Frank at 8 ( she read it at 11 or 12 – at 8 I gave her “Number the Stars” as an alternative) and I’d still like her to wait a bit for Running with Scissors (later in high school). I don’t think pre-teens or young teens need to read books containing graphic sexual violence. But that’s a choice I want to make *with* my daughter.

  144. People like that made me think twice about how I would describe my own experiences. I toned down any sexual scene in my own book about abuse, but I don’t know if that is the way to go. If we keep lowering the limits of what’s acceptable in books, we will end up with very boring books.

    People like Wesley Scroggins make me very angry. They impose THEIR personal values on the rest of the world, thereby reducing each individual’s liberties and freedom to live. What is even more upsetting is the fact that people like him consider descriptions of rape or abuse in literature pornography. One could wonder what goes on in the mind of a man like Mr. Scroggins, but I’m fairly certain it’s not very pleasant or even very pure.

    Banning books is a practice of the middle ages, and sometimes I wonder if that’s where we’re headed.

  145. I work with incarcerated and detained youth in New York City. Needless to say, they love Speak, and colleague Julia Weber reviews it on our blog here:

    The implicit accusation that I would bring pornography into my
    classroom offends me to my core. Miranda,
    the protagonist of this brilliantly funny and poignant young adult
    novel, was raped by Andy, a popular upperclassman athlete, the summer
    before her freshman year in high school; the scene is brief and
    non-explicit, but visceral. Miranda is then ostracized and becomes
    both mute and reclusive, expressing herself through her year-long art
    project- creating trees out of various media- until she gains the
    strength to confront her rapist, very loudly. I have taught Speak
    in my mixed junior high/high school English/Language Arts class and
    every student- from the shyest, Miranda-est girl to the most
    aggressive, Andy-est boy- loved it. We completed Miranda’s art
    assignments with her, each of us – myself included- taking an object
    and drawing it from a new perspective and with new purpose each day
    before we began our official lessons. As Miranda grew with her tree,
    so did our class grow with Miranda. Each student, though hesitant to
    do so at first, came to love sharing his or her literary/art journal
    with the rest of the class; some even wrote accompanying free-write
    entries explaining how Miranda’s ordeal helped them begin to process
    injustices they or their loved ones may have experienced.
    After we finished the novel and our projects, all of the students
    wrote ebullient letters of thanks to our DonorsChoose benefactors for
    enabling us to complete this educational unit by providing us with a classsroom set of this title.

  146. I have never been physically raped, but I went through some painful emotional abuse at the hands of my pastor–my pastor . . . a man of the cloth, a God-fearing man. 6 years later, I still could hardly speak of the experience and had no idea that my experience paralleled the emotional low and the shame associated with physical rape. Only after I read Speak as a 22-year-old woman did I understand what had happened to me, and then I was able to work through the experience towards emotional healing. What would have happened to me without Speak? Who would have given me a voice when mine was taken away from me, quite literally? We need this book and more books like it! We need you, Ms. Anderson!

  147. Dear Laurie –

    Thank you for SPEAKing up for all of us. I am a school librarian in Beaverton, OR (you’ll meet me soon! You’re coming to my school on November 9th) I just wanted to share a quote with you that I share with all of my students during my annual Banned Books spiel:

    A teacher from our school asks – “There is no age limit on violence, swearing, poverty and abuse when it happens TO a kid. Why should there be an age limit for when they can READ about it?”

    The day kids give permission to have horrible life experiences happen TO them is the day that I will make them ask for permission to read any of the books in my library. Including yours.

    Thank you for changing lives every day,
    Jen Blair
    Mt. View Middle School

  148. That is absolutely ridiculous what he’s done, but what you’re doing is not- it’s ravishing and fulfilling to many people and their hearts, brains, thoughts and emotions. It’s fulfilling to my stomach.
    You know when you feel that awful tug in your stomach? Well, yeah, that’s what I was referring to- my stomach is fulfilled because of this ^_^ You have spoke out and will make a difference.

    I personally haven’t read the book, but many of my friends have, and they’ve all enjoyed it much. It will be on my to read list, but it may take some time till it gets read, for I am a slow reader and have a shelf full of books O O. BUT JUDY BLUME?! That is way cool!!!! 😀 KYA!

  149. I hope that I am not too late to publish a defense of Speak. I’m waned to take my time, not sure it was worth it as the post seems a little rantish.

    Anyway, here it is.

    I’m not sure you remember but we met a few years ago at the River’s End Bookstore in Oswego. You were very kind to me and signed a book, which my students covet. Thanks for your great work.

  150. I hate to be sappy, but Speak really spoke to me. As a teenager, as a girl, as a person, as a writer. It made me laugh and cry and think, and that is what all the best books do. I’ve always wanted to thank you for writing it, and I’ll try to do my best by blogging all my evil feelings towards El Ignoramus.
    Someone I know was recently gangraped, and it’s so important to me that we stop this culture of blaming the victim, of making the shame theirs. Because it never, never, never is. I will post a link to my blog entry as soon as I stop seeing red.

  151. I am one of those Bible-believing evangelical pastors, received Christ when I was 19 (am 56 now) and am always sad and dismayed when these stories crop up. I defer to the late Dutch art historian, also a Christian, who was on the Board of Censors of Films in Holland. He was also associated with the late Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer (one of my heroes/mentors) considered one of the greatest Christian thinkers at the close of the 20th century.

    Speaking to authentic Christians, Rookmaaker wrote in Chapter 9 (Faith and Art) in his book, Modern Art & the Death of a Culture:

    “ general, if we have the chance of doing something, or of saying something because we are in a position to do so, because we are on a committee or have some other responsible position, what should we be doing or saying? What in fact is our calling?
    FIRST, WE MUST STAND FOR FREEDOM. (emphasis, mine) Of course the world around us is full of the cry for freedom. But as Peter (the apostle) writes, ‘they promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.’ The revolutionaries speak of freedom, yet we find that if you are not of their kind of freedom, you have no right to say so. The revolution is totalitarian. It leads to dictatorship in the name of freedom. Here we are called never to compromise, but to fight for true freedom. We must defend freedom even of those we do not like, even in movements we feel to be wrong. We may never be totalitarian in that sense. We shall stand for freedom for many reasons: because humanity is lost if freedom is gone; because love has no place in the world without freedom, and certainly too because in a world without freedom we shall not have the liberty to be Christians, to tell the good news, to invite others to our meetings. The Bible teaches us to pray for good government, so that we may live in peace, and so that others may have the opportunity of hearing the Gospel.”

    I do not know Laurie personally. Have only tweeted a few times, mostly when Georgetown and Syracuse are going at it on the basketball court. I have a copy of Speak – it sits on one of my giant “To Read” piles. While I have not yet read it – (it has now moved toward the top of said pile) – I don’t have to read it to know that while my guess is we would probably disagree on a variety of social issues – there is something we do agree on. Freedom.

    gary vanriper
    Camden, NY

  152. As a librarian and former classroom teacher, Speak belongs on the shelf. Frankly, it is immoral *not* to provide a voice for all whose mouths have been silenced by some catastrophic event in their lives, be it rape, abuse, or anything else that brings fear and shame into their lives. I taught Speak in the classroom, would teach Speak again if I went back to the classroom, and would never let it be removed from our library shelves. Shame on Wesley Scroggins for making judgments on a book he has obviously never read, and for not understanding events that have obviously never affected him.

  153. I have nothing against religion, honestly, but when these hardcore Christians pop up and start spewing a whole wad of crap about “the right, Christian thing to do,” and for stupid reasons, it really annoys me.
    When I read this article, I couldn’t believe it. At all. And, the fact that he doesn’t realize that kids nowadays aren’t such innocent little angels anymore really bothers me as well.
    This old man needs to open his eyes and hear what kids say, what “horrible” words come flying out of their mouths, the movies they watch, the video games they play, what they do on the Internet. Really, does he think that by banning a book about rape (that’s educational, btw) is going to stop kids from playing Call of Duty, Gears of War, Grand Theft Auto, watching slasher films that have sex, gore, and swearing in it every few minutes? Why not read it, if they’re basically going to SEE it on TV or on the internet.
    This old dude needs to realize that rape isn’t pornography–it’s RAPE. And rape is something people need to know about, and open their eyes to. So, does this old man expect all the people in the world who have been raped to stay hush hush about and don’t tell a soul, because if you say anything, it would be like describing porn to someone? Obviously, you wouldn’t have the intentions of telling someone that you’ve been assaulted and forced into something you didn’t want to do and you’re scarred for life and you’ll possibly never be the same again. Pfft! No way, you’d just want to describe porn to someone–you don’t want justice! (This was sarcasm and I believe that you tell ANYONE who will do something to help you, for any crime–especially rape). Don’t listen to this old bag. SPEAK was a novel that teaches people to SAY something to the world, ANYTHING to make someone listen and to help you in life and to help you find justice. IMO, SPEAK should NOT be ever banned from libraries. EVER.

  154. Thank you.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought a reference to Speak as porn cast a creepy and sadistic light on the obviously ignorant individual pointing the finger. Has he READ the book? I’m thinking if he did, his comprehension level is somewhere below middle school.

    I read your novel for my Developmental Reading course as an undergrad and found it powerful and very validating. As a survivor of an attempted rape and a classroom teacher, I applaud your honesty.

    If I may be so preachy, there are hungry and abused children this person could crusade for instead of training his dingaling radar on quality YA.

  155. Ms. Anderson, you’re in VERY good company, because one of the books these whackanuts frequently target for banning is “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”, because it has the word “witch” in the title, and therefore must, by definition, be “promoting satanism/witchcraft”. When you ask these self-righteous, screeching harpies if they have, in fact, read the book… Or indeed, if they even know who C.S. Lewis was, the answer is, inevitably, something along the lines of, “Oh, I don’t read that pagan trash, and I have no interest in evil, satan-worshipping, witch-promoting pagan heathens”. (I’m pretty sure the pre-eminent Christian scholar of his time would be rather surprised to be characterized in this fashion, and to have his modern-day Christian parble characterized in that fashion…).

  156. Now that we are living in the 21st century with so many different sources of information that provide variable levels of content, banning a book seems archaic in this day and age. I would think that this professor’s time would be better spent helping students wrap their minds around independent critical thinking skills instead of leading by narrowminded opinions and enforcing them by taking away individual intellectual freedom- banning books. This is not acting as “in loca parentis.” To me this is an attempt at creating a dictatorship in which students are not able to excercise their ability to pursue their own personal and aesthetic growth as part of democratic society to broaden their understanding and meaning of their own life.

    I was raped when I was 16. I give my high school soccer coach so much credit for trying to reach out when he noticed how much I had changed after the event. Unfortunately at the time, I was too afraid to talk as I was bottled up with fear and shame. Speak is a powerful novel with poignant insight. A million times, Thank you!

  157. As a former high school English teacher, I can not speak enough about the importance of this book and how it absolutely needs to be available to kids to read. To deny that kids are not experiencing these very same circumstances in their own lives is like burying ones head in the sand. And I often wonder about people who make proposals like this – what is their solution to rape amongst teenagers? what is their solution to a girl feeling she can’t say anything for fear of the repercussions? Until this professor comes up with a legitimate and plausible solution to this problem of rape and kids feeling they can’t say anything, please don’t take away an incredibly well-written book that gives kids hope and answers and someone, even if fictional, that they can relate to. For shame!

  158. I finished it five minutes ago. I had to blow my nose and my cheeks are still salty.

    I ignored Speak in middle school because I thought it was just another one of those books. I was wrong. There’s a good chance I wasn’t ready to read it then. That’s the only reason I should have ever had for not reading it.

    This is not porn. There is no more tactful or honest way to write this story. It needed to be written. It needs to be read.

    I’m going to buy a copy and lend it.

    I want to be Mr. Freeman.

  159. Banning books? Let’s see, now, didn’t Hitler do that very same thing? So, does this so-called “minister” ( God would NEVER ban books) want to characterize himself in the same mode as Adolf Hitler? He’s doing a good job of it. I’ve read SPEAK, and as a YA writer, I can only hope that someday, I will publish a book of that magnitude. I won’t go into details, but a young family member was gang-raped and threatened with her life if she told anyone, so this book really hits home. It is a wonderful book, sensitively written, and one all girls from age 12 and up should have as required reading. Another book that should be required reading for them is WINTERGIRLS…also a hard-hitting book but with the same insight and sensitivity that SPEAK has.

    Ban the books? No, we should ban the “prophet” who claims they should be banned.

  160. Dear Laurie,
    If that guy thinks that eye-opening, yet beautifully written novel called SPEAK is soft porn, then he is either cuckoo or jealous he didn’t write it himself.
    Tomorrow, there will be a group post on my group blog about Mr I-wanna-ban-this. I would love it if you read it.

  161. I heard about this religious guy trying to ban SPEAK. While I did try to avoid name calling in the blog I wrote, I still think this guy is an incredibly huge moron.

  162. I think I’ll even offer a free copy of this on my blog. I’ll buy it with my own money & offer it- bonus points if someone from this guy’s area wins it!

  163. This coming from a quite-liberal-atheist-stripper whom you would unlikely find yourself agreeing with in nearly any situation…

    I have to say, Gary, I am very impressed and inspired with your attitude regarding this book! Thank you, thank you, thank you for promoting, as a Christian with the ability to influence others’ faith, the fact that one can be both well-read and a very faithful believer.

    It’s important to me that Christians (and others of faith, but it is most often I run into Christians that believe it is inappropriate to read material that may be disagreeable) see that books are a means of educating people, sharing opinions, and expressing freedom.

    I love to read. I don’t have empirical or convincing proof that God exists, for myself, but the freedom to believe so (and WRITE about it) is one that I HOPE people continue to write about, in addition to those things that frequently get a book banned: sexual content (including sexual assault and education/contraception), drugs, the occult/witchcraft, homosexuality, violence, pro-choice education, etc.

    Please continue to express to others your views on this book, especially once you’ve read it. It’s an excellent, inspirational story about one girl’s way of dealing with sexual assault. Ultimately, the message I see in this book for young adults is that rape and sexual assault are very painful, very difficult things to deal with.

    Thanks for supporting freedom,
    Natalie McLain

  164. What a moving post.

    Speak cannot be allowed to be swept under the carpet by one selfish fool. My first thought was…Porn? Is he guilty of something and it shames him, so therefore wants it off the shelves?

  165. My students, my sisters, my friends, a boyfriend, my husband, the odd girl in parochial school, the student council president, the valedictorian, that funny English teacher, my lab partner in biology who was told he was gay “because” of it (which I DON’T think is why I am straight). The politician, the athlete, the addict, the internet executive, the priest who now hurts others, the priest who listened to her tears with respect, and, of course, I can tell you with my head held high, me, too. And why shouldn’t I hold my head high. It is not MY shame. It is the shame of those my father kept in his will while I was disowned for finally speaking out. They deposit that kind of money, bought silence, into a blood bank, their blood and mine, a similar source, but It is their shame. Not mine. I’m happy. I live free from the conspiracy of silence.

  166. I spent twenty years of my life teaching writing and literature at the university level. I can’t tell you the number of students I encountered in my career who talked about having read “Speak” as teenagers and having it become the book that motivated them to want to write. Moreover, many students spoke passionately about how “Speak” touched their lives and encouraged them to share their voice, to speak out against injustice, and in one case, gave a student who had suffered a similar fate the courage to face her past and speak out against violence.

    I have read only a handful of YA books. I read “Speak” because of these students I mention. I found it eloquent, smart, respectful of its subject, its characters, and its readers. I remember reading the book in one sitting and feeling I had known some of the people who populate its pages. As the father of three daughters, it is one of the books that I suggested each of them read when they reached their own teenage years.

    It is exactly the sort of book that should make all of us speak loudly against ignorance and simple-mindedness, two qualities shared by those who suggest we ban books. To ban books is to ban ideas. it is an affront to freedom and we should speak out against those who try and disperse injustice.

  167. This article is outrageous! “Soft porn”? It describes a juvenile girl being raped, I see nothing pornographic about it. The book sends out such a positive message to people of all ages that there is indeed hope after such a horrific experience. It encourages the reader the speak up and speak out. The sex (if it can even be classified as so) paints a picture for the reader NOT with the intention of pleasure but of a struggle. This man completely did not get the true intention of why the book was written. I believe it takes a perverse mind to make such an accusation. Tip: Watch the movie, perhaps you’ll understand it better!!
    – Valerie M.

  168. your book spoke to me I was molested from the grades 6 grade thru freshman year. I never spoke it to anyone not one person. not even my husband. I read the book and told my bestie about the book. she read and then together we both started to open about both of our experinces she also was a rape victim. thank you for writing this book thsnk you for heping me find my voice to SPEAK.

  169. Hi. I’m certain you don’t remember me, but I met you at a book signing in Utah this summer. (If it helps: My daughter DID decide to join the cross country team AND to compete and she is doing great!) I know it’s not a very polished or well-written thought, but I have to say that Mr. Croggins is an idiot. Fwew. I feel better. I blogged about this! HERE:

    Thanks for being an inspiration to many!

  170. You know what would be fun? If everyone, ok, I guess not everyone, but if a lot of people took pictures of themselves, or their kids, or friends, etc…reading this book..and sent it to this guy? I mean..I’m sure we could figure out his work address. Wouldn’t that be funny? Even funnier..include a note thanking him for bringing the book to your attention and causing you to buy it. haha! I bet he would hate that.

  171. I’m the Teen Librarian in Joplin, MO (southwest of Republic/Springfield). The other day, one of our former board members came to my desk holding a copy of Speak. I was both surprised and delighted when she sat down to tell me that “this book should be required reading for everyone, but especially teenagers.”

  172. Ms. Anderson: Though I’m late to catching up on this issue, but I wanted to say thank you for 1) writing this book, 2) defending it so eloquently in your editorial response, and 3) for encouraging all of us to act.

    Though I have a used copy of SPEAK, I just called my local indie bookstore and ordered a new copy to support you and the honest writing you create and share with us. I look forward to trying to include SPEAK in my curriculum when I get into high school English classrooms in a few years as a teacher.

    Best wishes.

  173. This year was the first time I have read your book. As I was reading it, I said to myself, “I wish this book had found it’s way to me when I was 13.” I will never know how different those years would have been if there was a book like this around for me. Perhaps I would have spoken sooner. It enrages me that someone would dare attempt to take the opportunity for empowerment away from another young girl. I will be writing a letter to the editor and encouraging others to do the same both on my blog and in my community. Thank you so much for writing this book and I wish you the best.

  174. My son is 13 next year he will be a Freshman. My older son who is sixteen was assigned this book when he was a Freshman I was so impressed with the book and it’s story line I assigned it to my 13 year old to READ. This book kept his attention and gave a great discussion for my family. I suggested it to his 8th grade teacher. GREAT READING and a lesson learned

  175. Well, i don’t have a blog, so i am just going to post my response here.

    let me just say, that i literally just finished reading SPEAK for the first time a few days ago. AND IT CHANGED MY LIFE.

    this book is one-of-a-kind and does not deserved to be banned. i even checked it out from my school library.

    Melinda is in a way, just like me (except i’ve never been raped and i dont normally hang out in a closet and im not very good at drawing trees or anything) but just the fact of all the inside thoughts she has on the world around her, THOSE ARE THE SAME THOUGHTS RUNNING THROUGH MY HEAD! Any teenager can relate to Melinda and i feel as if she’s one of the most inspiring characters ive ever read about.

    this book changed my life.

  176. so totally disagree with the idea of book banning. who really has the right to say what anyone should or shouldn’t read. same thing goes for music movies or tv. what’s art or trash is subjective. but if the right of choice is takenaway, what do people have? i never read the book,Speak, but saw the movie and was moved by it. when i was in middle and high school, i was bullied and sexually harassed. thats what caused me to start my self injury. i’m glad there are writers like Laurie and Ellen Hopkins and others who are willing to talk about things like rape and sucide intheir books because it happens and needs to be talked about, not swept under a rug.

  177. I believe, that “Speak” should not be banned. This book, is a very life changing book. For an assignment, I’ve been having to read this book. This book has truly changed my life in a good way. It made me think about things more. So, I hope that he doesn’t ban this book, because everyone should have the right to read this book.

  178. I will be blogging about this and writing to Republic. I love SPEAK, as does my roommate, and quite a few others here in “Main Hall.” I know what it is like to deal with sexual assault and sexual abuse, and this book is such a wonderful, valuable resource for those who have experienced it and don’t know what to do.

    Scroggins calling it porn says more about what he gets off on than it says about the content of the book.

    It’s not even about sex! It’s about rape!

    It’s about a young woman who has been silenced. And now this man–and this school district–is going to silence her again….

    Thank you for this book and for speaking up in light of recent criticisms.

    Andréa deCarlo
    Moravian Class of 2011
    Moravian Theological Seminary

  179. wow, I hate censorship, I believe that everyone should be free to decide what is right for them to watch, read, hear and experience. that choice is only up to the person.

    anyone that calls rape porn is obviously either sick or extremely sheltered. one doesn’t need to be personally affected by rape to know that it affects people for the rest of their lives, and changes them accordingly.

    To have an insight into this, to the pain that people suffer, is life, not porn.

    An opinion is like a penis. It’s fine to have one. It’s fine to be proud of it. But please don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around, and PLEASE don’t try to shove it down children’s throats.

  180. Wesley Scoggins sounds like a typical bigot, the type of person who gives all of Christianity a bad name with his agenda. Even his name is creepy. A creep who finds rape exciting. A creep who doesn’t even know the difference between rape and sex. I haven’t read this book but now I will. Banning books is nasty but usually has the oppositie of the intended effect. So one wonders why the nasties bother. You have a new follower.

  181. Want your site’s visitors to skyrocket to 2965 per day go to http:// You won’t believe it

  182. I just don’t understand how a book that has comforted so many people can be seen as something worth banning. Frankly, it disgusts me.

  183. All the lies that Wesley said about the book “Speak” is horrifying and it is crazy how he wants to go around and say how bad of a book it is for “Young Adults” , yes there is some swearing in the book but again its for young adults (not a big deal) and him saying that the book is “pornographic” is crazy young adults needs to be exposed to these things so they know what to do if they where in the same position as Melinda was.. Laurie Halse Anderson is an amazing person for coming out and giving her opinion on the whole thing about banning “Speak” he did the right thing about coming out and telling the truth and not making things up, and I believe that more people are on Laurie side, if you read the book you would understand where Laurie is coming from. Scroggins did nothing but make terrible things up about “Speak” I hope he regrets what he said about this book and how great the book is and nothing is bad in the book it is really educational for young adult and believe that all young adults needs to give this book a try even if you hate reading

  184. Speak to me teaches teens that life isn’t going to be the best your whole life, their are really bad things that could happen. If a teen hasn’t read it they should it would teach them a lot about life

  185. The book Speak really showed me what people have to go through in their lives, whether it be personal, or family problems, or something much bigger that causes everything to downfall, as it did for Melinda. I also realized how hard it is to speak out about something like rape, especially with all the stuff happening in the news lately with popular celebrities. People should definitly read this book so they can better understand what people have to go through. It also is a very good book especially when you dig deep into and realize how well it is written. Most people should read the book Speak.

  186. I like the Speak. I think the book was good book that high school grades would love to read it bought out a lot of issue that and sometime will happen it show not speaking about it will not be beneficial to any one.

  187. As a 9th grader that was assigned to read “Speak”, I feel it is a very good thing for teenagers to read. There are, without a doubt, teens in this world that have experienced the same thing as Melinda (the main character in this book). My English class had group discussions about this book and multiple students said they could relate to Melinda. There’s around 20 kids in my English class, and at least 3 of them admitted to relating to her. If math is done, that equals 15% of my class. If the same math is done on just the United States alone, approximately 76 million people could relate to Melinda one way or another. This book gives teens, and any other people that read it, a look at what can actually happen. For some people it can be really hard to speak out about what has happened to them in the past. After reading this book those individuals may find their voice.

  188. I agree with you, Scroggins has completely characterized the book in a completely disgusting, this book should be mandatory to all students in all schools no matter what. Besides all kids are going to figure out what all of this is anyways, they need to be use to this type of language and what really goes on in the real world in order to survive. To be able to know who we are as people of this generation. This book including other book of the same YA category deserve to be involved with our students English education. This book has a very important to me and other people, I am very thankful this book exists and a writer like you exists. I am very happy that this issue with Wesley is being talked about.

  189. I believe Wesley Scroggins is wrong. I am newly entering high school and I think this is a great book to read for any new freshman. Although some scenes are at a higher maturity level, they show what can really happen and that the world isn’t just a cake walk. Laurie Halse Anderson portrays the life of a young girl who has gone through an awful event, and as sad as it is, it deserves to be recognized, there are many people out there who have had similar experiences and need a similar story to share coping methods. As a society, we can not hide the fact that there is tragedy in the world. We need to know about this type of thing so we can stop it from happening.

  190. This book is a good learning curve for kids going in to high school. I say this because “Speak” has a lot of adult/touchy subjects. So it is good for kids to learn and realize that this really happens and that their are bad people in the world that want to hurt you and that not everything is going to be coated in sugar and handed to you on a silver platter.

  191. Speak is written about a freshman going into high school with a secret that she doesn’t know how to respond to. Melinda was raped, and being raped is a real thing that people shouldn’t have to go through. All Laurie Halse Anderson did was write and publish a book about a terrible experience that a person had to live with.

  192. I don’t believe what Wesley Scroggins said because rape is not the same as pornography, it’s a terrible thing to happen to someone. It not only affects the person being raped physically, it affects their mental health just like Melinda. There are plenty of rape victims out there and needing help. Speak talks about the issue and brings awareness to many young people to possibly prevent rapes in the future.

  193. I think that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that people in his community aren’t forced to follow in his opinion on Speak. I haven’t seen the movie but have read the book so I can’t say I saw any visual pornographic content in the book.

  194. I believe SPEAK speak raises awareness for rape, and or bullying. Rape is to not be taken lightly. This is a serious topic. And it is definitely necessary for students to read a book that would help others realize these types of problems in our world, and to help others SPEAK up! Oh wait, that’s the title of the book. So I strongly disagree with Wesley Scroggins’ review of this book.

  195. I agree with you all the way! Scroggins probably hasn’t even read the book “Speak” . In the book “Speak” there is not one sex scene through out that whole book besides when she gets raped. If anyone thinks being raped is exciting then they are discussing. People can choose to have sex but they can’t when it comes to rape: rape they are forced to do it. In speak she didn’t choose to be raped it just happened. When I read speak I learned that when something bad happens you should speak up. It may be hard to but it will help you in the long run. So I agree with you 100%

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