Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why Yes I Had to #SpeakLoudly and Have A Twenty Boy Summer

I wasn't going to post about this. I'm joining the Banned Books Challenge (post should be up this weekend!) and I figured my actions would speak louder than words. Plus I'm a book blogger. Doesn't that essentially mean I'm against censorship and book banning?

Well yes and no. I think every book blogger is against censorship and book banning but I still think I should speak up (pun not intended). This will be short because I'm sure (like mine) your Google Reader has over 200+ posts about Speak alone.

Speak is by Laurie Halse Anderson. I read this book the summer before my freshman year. I had never heard of it before, I didn't know what to read and it was on my library's recommended reading list (Whale Talk was also on this list and thus I will forever trust my library's recommendations. And Whale Talk is another banned book! But I digress).

I immediately figured out why Melinda wasn't speaking. But that's not as important. Wat's important is understanding why Melinda won't speak and trying to understand how you can prevent a situation like this from ever happening again. Or at least, create a comfortable environment in which people aren't afraid to admit they've been raped so the IDIOTS who raped them can GO TO JAIL. *deep breath* I admit to being frustrated with Melinda, why couldn't she just SPEAK? And then it hit me. When it finally hit me, it almost knocked me over because I realized I was being so unfair and judgemental of Melinda. Anyway, so many other amazing bloggers have reviewed Speak so I will simply say that it is a book that EVERYONE MUST READ regardless of what certain people think (I refuse to link to his article). Instead I urge you to read the author's response and google the hundreds of support posts being published (or just check out the comments section of the author's post). Don't forget to check out the Twitter hashtag #SpeakLoudly

Also, I would like to state that I'm a Christian. And I'm ashamed of Christians like a certain pastor and a certain professor. This is SO not the way to go.

As for Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. Since I'm not linking to that man's craziness, I will paraphrase a bit. Basically this professor thinks the book glorifies parties where teens get drunk and having protected sex.

I'm going to be completely honest. When I read that my FIRST thought was "there was sex in this book?" I kid you not. Yes this statement makes me seem unobservant, but it also speaks to how I honed in on the actual focus of the book. It's a story of grief, moving on, forgiveness, love. I was so concerned with Anna being able to move on after Matt's death. How do you move on after you finally realize you've been in love with someone for years and a few days after your secret, glorious relationship starts, they are gone forever? How.Do.You.Deal? The sad thing is, so many teens will have to deal with this. Tragic accidents, fatal illnesses, etc. This book details the different (and often ineffective) ways people grieve. After I thought back on it, I do remember sex occurring but it obviously made no impact on me. Neither did the drunk parties. Maybe because those happen in real life? Every teen is going to end up in those situations at one point in their life, unintentional or not. Oh and did I miss the part where having protected sex is a bad thing? That means a 99% less chance of pregnancy and STDs. That would be a good thing!

I know this whole post was rather incoherent but I just wanted to share my thoughts about this. Basically


Oh and professor? You just helped increase book sales for Speak, Twenty Boy Summer and Cat's Cradle. And yes, I am having an actual LOL moment (I doubt the professor knows what that means though....It has nothing to do with sex/drinking/porn, don't worry!). So THANK YOU because these books deserve to be read by teens everywhere and I'm glad your shortcomings are helping others.


  1. Fantastic post. I agree with everything you said. Unfortunately, people like Dr. Scroggins cannot see past the sex, alcohol, and drugs to the real focus of these books, or understand that teachers use these books to discuss the issue that face our teens and help them gain perspective using fictional characters to discuss alternatives.

  2. Great post Ari. I'm always curious do these people get their panties in a bunch about the stuff on youtube, tv, movie screens. How come movies never get banned? I have two kids and I certainly don't want them reading or seeing things that aren't age appropriate but kids mature and are able to cope with different topics at different times. If I don't think my kids is ready for a book with a rape scene or drunken partying or whatever then I will monitor what they are viewing/reading and keep an open dialogue going. By banning it you are just making it forbidden fruit and we all know how tasty that is.

  3. I agree that all three are great books, and have positive messages, and that having someone try to ban them is a great way to increase familiarity with them. I say, if it increases readership, publicity, and discussion, ban away!

  4. Completely agreed. And although the original article that sparked all this response is stupid, I'm thrilled with the response it's gotten from the book blogging community.

  5. This shook me out of my normal torpor. The irony of trying to silence a book speaking to the dangers of silence. I blogged about it too--I think volume counts in a case like this.

  6. YES. Speak is an amazing book (haven't read Twenty Boy Summer yet--shame on me). I was outraged when I read about it being compared to "soft porn" and typed a post about it over on my LiveJournal blog. A book that honest should never be silenced!

  7. I've only heard of Speak before. My kids had it for a reading class (actually, English, loL) and both of them told me it was very intense book. I skimmed through it and I thought it was sad.

    People like Dr. Scroggin will see sex and "porn" in all kinds of things. They're probably so obsessed and feeling guilty about this that they think EVERYone thinks the same way they do. They're their own special brand of crazy. Too bad they're usually in positions of a bit of power and there are silly people who actually listen to them. For every one person who does believe his hyperbole, I'll bet there's 10 more that look at things with more practicality.

    Hurray for publicity for books!


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