Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 320
Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson is a story about being an advocate for the survivors of sexual assault. Anderson's first novel, titled Speak—which was published in 1999—also dealt with the issue of sexual assault.
In Shout, Melinda Sordino, an autobiographical character, nearly stops speaking after an incident that occurred during a summer party. While Speak is a work of fiction, Shout is considered a memoir because it is written by Anderson about her own life and her experience of being raped when she was thirteen years old. Shout is not a typical novel, as it is written in free verse poetry.
Throughout the story, Anderson compares sexual assault to the trauma of war. Anderson starts the story by narrating her father's wartime experiences, which consist of many traumatic experiences; he watched one of his best friends die and was also stationed at a concentration camp during World War II. Anderson states that all trauma is trauma, but she also argues that the trauma that is suffered during and after war is taken seriously while the trauma that is associated with sexual assault is brushed aside or hidden.
Anderson also shares many of her childhood memories as well as how a family's experiences and one's personal experiences shape an entire life. One example from the story is when the boys in Sordino's school ask her what the big deal was about her sexual assault. This shows that many survivors of rape are not treated seriously and that every day can be a struggle to feel accepted and valued. This also proves that society—especially American society—is not educated enough about the issue of sexual assault.
Shout is a story that fits in perfectly with the #MeToo movement. Both the novel and the movement are focused on inspiring more survivors to speak up about their experiences—so that sexual assault will be taken more seriously and could, ideally, be eliminated.
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