SPEAK UP

I’m probably the least likely candidate to post something about this as I haven’t had the chance to read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson yet.  It has been on my to read list for a while, and because of this controversy I’m about to talk about, it will be moved near the top of my list.

Dr. Scroggins, a professor at Missouri State University, wrote an article asking that the high schools in his area ban Speak because he believes this book is soft porn.  Now, because I haven’t read Speak, I cannot say whether the images described in this book are soft porn or not.  However, my gut feeling tells me they are not.  Rape is a very sensitive subject, and I can understand why some people are hesitant to read about it.  However, I also think that sometimes things need to be shown in their graphic nature (e.g. Schindler’s List) so that those who haven’t experienced what is being described can understand (even if it that understanding is infinitesimal compared to the understanding of someone who has experienced it).

Not only is Speak about the journey of a rape victim who learns to take her life back by dealing with her rape, it is also about that victim having a voice and learning to speak up about her attack.  I have been sexually assaulted, and like me, anyone who has knows the only way to come off as conqueror is to speak up about their experience and not let the perpetrator go away unscathed.  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.

There is a possibility when I read Speak that I will not like it.  However, no matter what my opinion ends up being, I do not believe it, or any other book for that matter, should be banned.  Yes, there are a lot of smutty and raunchy books out there that I will not read.  However, I have no right to keep someone else from reading those books.  Everyone needs to make their own decision as to what types of books they deem are worthy to be read.

In the case of children, I do believe that parents have the right to limit the books they want their own children to read.  However, I don’t believe that any parent, professor, or government official has the right to decide what another person’s child should be allowed to read.

In my opinion, controversial topics are a chance for parents to teach their children, to help them understand the atrocities in this life, and most importantly, to more fully appreciate the beauty and love this life can offer.  You cannot appreciate the good without knowing the bad, and you cannot always shelter your children against the atrocities of this world.  Isn’t it better to arm your children with the skills and coping mechanisms needed to deal with these atrocities instead of hoping they’ll be able to figure it out on their own when they’re older or when they encounter them?  I sure wish my parents would have taught me how to deal with my assault instead of always shying away from the bad things as if they didn’t exist.  The last 18 years have been a very long, and ofttimes rocky, road to understanding, forgiveness, and healing.  Banning books deprives parents and children of these opportunities to arm them with the knowledge they need to get through this life as unscathed as possible!

Even if you haven’t read Speak like me, speak up and support Laurie Halse Anderson and do not let her book be banned!  Spread the word that banning books is wrong and banning Speak is harmful.  Here are a few places to start:

Utah Book Bloggers 2010 Summer Social

In August (I know this is very late and not typical of me to do but I realized I hadn’t blogged about this event and I wanted to repent of my omission), I had the chance to attend another book blogger social for local authors and book bloggers in Utah. Twice a year, Natasha at Maw Books hosts this social to encourage hookups between authors and book bloggers to get to know each other and have fun. Natasha enlisted the help of fellow book bloggers Suey and Becky. They did a great job organizing the party.

I was able to meet Lisa Mangum, the author of The Hourglass Door and Golden Spiral. She told me she was an editor for Deseret Book and I told her I was currently going to school in pursuit of a career as an editor too. She told me about her job and what to expect and that Deseret Book does internships every once in a while. I’ll have to look them up when I get done or close to being done with school.

After we ate, we all introduced ourselves to each other. There were a ton of book bloggers there and several authors as well–Bree Despain, Matthew J. Kirby, Lisa Mangum, Emily Wing Smith, and Sheralynn Pratt to name a few.

Natasha had us all bring a book to swap. I brought Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus. I had to read it for my class in spring. I picked up Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant and A Curable Romantic by Joseph Skibell. I’m not sure what either of them are about, but I’m excited to find out.

Matthew J. Kirby and Bree Despain had ARCs (advanced readers copies) of their new books The Clockwork Three and The Lost Saint (respectively). My friend Debbie and I were chomping at the bit to read a little bit of The Lost Saint and possibly take it home with us. But, we were good and left it in Bree’s hands. Matthew decided to send his book on a blog tour. Debbie went home with it first and it just got to me. I’m excited to start reading it.

It was a lot of fun to mingle with other book bloggers and local authors. I’m excited to be a part of this group, to experience it with Debbie, and I can’t wait for our next social.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra ClareTitle: Clockwork Angel
Author: Cassandra Clare (Blog, Twitter, Facebook)
Series: The Infernal Devices #1
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Steampunk, YA
Pages: 496
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Hardcover
Buy on Amazon • Add to Goodreads • Add to Shelfari
Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length ... everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world ... and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all. Summary from Dust Jacket

Because I loved the Mortal Instruments so much, I’ve been looking forward to Clockwork Angel ever since I found out about it.  I wasn’t disappointed in the least.  I loved it and it has earned a spot on my Favorites shelf.

Because the Infernal Devices trilogy is prequel-ish to the Mortal Instruments, you might expect some of the same characters.  However, the Infernal Devices takes place about 130 years before the Mortal Instruments does.  There are still shadowhunters, demons, vampires, mundanes, etc., but the only way you see the same characters is through their ancestry (other than a particular warlock who shall remain nameless).  I enjoyed meeting the ancestors of some of my beloved characters and wonder how this ancestry will play a role in the next two books as well as possibly reveal more about the characters in the Mortal Instruments.

I didn’t think Clockwork Angel was as intense as the Mortal Instruments, but I wonder if that’s because I’m used to Cassandra Clare’s writing style now.  I’m definitely dying to find out what happens next and given Clare’s track record, I won’t know anything until the very end of the last book.  Because of that, I sort of wish I would’ve waited to read this book once all three books have been published.

Clare has a way of keeping her readers on the edge of their seats during the entire story.  There’s so much conflict with good vs. evil and with the angst between the characters’ relationships in the story.  I really enjoy the worlds and stories she creates.

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