Laurie Halse Anderson's teen readers inspired her to confront her own rape in "Shout"

Twenty years ago, Laurie Halse Anderson's breakthrough young adult novel "Speak" caused a sensation for its unflinching depiction of the aftermath of sexual assault. Now, the author is back with a new edition of the international bestseller and a new memoir of poetry called, appropriately, ["Shout]”(

Yet despite the call for open communication that she advocates for in the titles of her works, Anderson finds herself a regular on the American Library Association's top 100 list of banned and challenged books. (In 2010, an associate professor at Missouri State University described "Speak" as "filthy."

On “Salon Talks” Anderson opened up to SalonTV’s Mary Elizabeth Williams about her surprisingly benevolent attitude toward those who would prefer her books not be on library shelves or in school backpacks. "My dad used to say that whenever anybody tries to censor my book I should write them a thank you note, because it creates a lot of publicity," Anderson joked.

"I used to get really angry when people would try to censor my books because I took it quite personally," she said. "Now I've actually learned to love the parents who are so confused and frightened that they think censoring a book will protect their children, because they love their kids as much as you or I love our kids. Nobody's ever talked to them about things like healthy sexuality or sexual violence."

And she noted, "When I see a parent trying to censor a book, what I see the parent is really trying to censor is having an awkward conversation with their child."

Watch the episode above to hear more about Anderson’s take on teaching boys about consent and how the #MeToo movement and Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s hearings ushered in a new era of talking about sexual violence.

About “Salon Talks”

Hosted by Salon journalists, “Salon Talks” episodes offer a fresh take on the long-form interview format, and a much-needed break from the partisan political talking heads that have come to dominate the genre. “Salon Talks” is a destination for information through conversation. Viewers can expect discussions with A-list actors, artists, authors, thinkers, and newsmakers as we explore the full range of the human condition. The show streams live on Facebook and Twitter and each episode is published in full on


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