Apr 29, 2012

Adolescent Literature etc. Including Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

     I've started a new class for Spring term here at BYU; Adolescent Literature taught by Cheri Earl. Originally the class was going to be taught by contemporary YA author Carol Lynch Williams (The Chosen One, Miles from Ordinary), but she's got a ton of things going on like moving house, co-organizing the Writing & Illustrating for Young Readers Conference, and some sort of hecka' book deal. Also, FYI, Carol's newest book, Waiting, is due out May 1st.
     Cheri is a card, like, a fun one. She's been given an overall 4.6 out of five on ratemyprofessors.com as well as a chili pepper of hotness. Cheri is also an author (Psst!...Secret Instructions Every Girl Should Know co-authored with Rick Walton, George & Gracie, Just in Time co-authored with Carol lynch Williams) and is agented by the same agent as Carol--and Matthew Kirby (Clockwork Three, Icefall) for that matter (go local authors who are also LDS!)--Stephen Fraser from the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency. As part of Rick Walton's Children's Publishing class which I took during the recently ended Winter semester, Stephen came to speak and he was phenomenal. I teared up at one point, for reals, in a good way. He's like a spiritual, booky guru.
     Anyhoo, as part of this Adolescent Literature class, we are going to read 20 novels in about 6 1/2 weeks, with a few papers thrown in. I just finished Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak and am currently reading Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan.
(Cover by Michael Morgenstern)
     Speak is a fast and pointed read. I've seen it mentioned when controversial YA books are brought up, but honestly, I don't see why. There's nothing graphic about it and the topic is handled well. The topic is adolescent rape. The story is from the victim's perspective and takes place after the fact. To say it's handled well may not be quite right (like, "well" might sound lame), it's not a preachy book or whatever, it's simply a telling book; what if this happened to this girl? Then what? What if she didn't tell anyone? What would the next school year be like (which is her first year of high school)? How would her friends treat her? What would she do if she encountered the guy who raped her (he's a senior in the same school)? What about her home life, her parents? What about her teachers? To me, it's a story that addresses the what ifs of a hypothetical and serious, life altering situation, which occurs in real life to real teens. There is nothing tasteless about the writing or story and there is nothing offensive. And as the title suggests, in the real life situations of sexual offense and depression, when one is ready, one should Speak. Also, art teachers are cool.
     I recommend this book to any type of reader. The main character is 13-14 in the story, so that is probably a safe age, and up, for readers to be. Of course younger kids can read it too, it all depends on the type of person they are. This would be a significant read as parent and child. There is also a movie based on Speak (called Speak), starring a younger Kristen Stewart. Laurie says that the movie is a very good adaptation. I want to see it. Laurie is also IN the movie, for a split second, as a mashed potato slinging lunch lady.

     Aside from reading a lot, I have been writing a lot. Because I am a horrible procrastinating day dreamer. But I won't go into that. This upcoming week I will be seeing "Mirror, Mirror" (trailer below) with some Once Upon A Time book club buddies, going to Rick Riordan's presentation hosted by the Provo City Library (yes, I was the person who started the ticket line at 5am a couple Saturday's ago--I was told it was in the news somewhere but I can't find it), and attending the LDStoryMakers conference for four days. During said conference I will be having a ten minute pitch session with literary agent Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency (egads! What was I thinking!). She is the agent for hilarious, YA, paranormal romance author Kiersten White (Paranormalcy trilogy). Let's just say that I'm expecting it to be a great learning experience. I'll tell you what I learned at a later date. Unless it's in some way incriminating. Then I'll skirt around the issue and use words like "awesome" and "cool" to amp up the parts that don't make me look lame.

All right! That's it for my random update!
Check out the trailer for "Mirror, Mirror" below. It looks like a silly, fun, enjoyable movie.
And you've got to love Julia Robert's signature laugh.


  1. Holy canoli that's a lot of books when you're also throwing in papers, too!

    And the author link with Rick Riordan sounds incredible! I hope you had a great time. I'm excited to see you at Storymakers!

    1. Thanks, Peggy! Rick Riordan was GREAT! And I'll see you later today for the workshop!


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