Laurie Halse Anderson Recommends Books for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Posted by Marie on April 1, 2019
Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author of Speak, a novel about a young survivor of sexual assault. Her recent memoir, Shout, uses poetry to tell the story of the experiences that inspired the book. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Anderson discusses the pain and trauma of this difficult subject and shares recommendations that touch on hope and healing for young readers.


Sexual violence can be deeply traumatizing and life-altering. It's also the crime that is most easily prevented with education. This year's theme for Sexual Assault Awareness Month focuses on consent: "I Ask." The heart of consent is mutual communication. Consent is respect in action, honoring the emotional and personal boundaries of another person. Consent is mandatory.


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We can start teaching the basic lessons of consent, i.e. don't touch someone without their permission, to toddlers. As puberty approaches, it’s time to learn how, when, and why to give and get consent in sexual situations. The “I Ask” campaign covers the entire range of consent, from asking to hold someone’s hand to asking if they are interested in having sex—and everything in between. The getting and giving of consent—sober, informed, ongoing, and enthusiastic consent—is necessary to ensure that both partners have the same expectations and desires. Simple, right?

But some people feel awkward discussing things like consent and sex with young adults. They think that conversations like that should be postponed until some distant point in the future. But young people are incredibly vulnerable to sexual violence. Women age 16 to 19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims.

Because young adults are at a much higher risk, they should be reading books that confront the issue of sexual violence. Here are a few that I recommend to everyone:



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This heartbreaking novel focuses on the aftermath of a rape victim in a small town that sides with her attacker. She endures relentless bullying, harassment, blaming, and shaming from her school and community, driving her to the edge of despair. This book is about claiming your space when the world refuses to give it to you.


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Indigenous women in the United States are at the greatest risk of sexual violence than women of any other racial group. This powerful novel explores the search for justice after an Ojibwe woman is sexually assaulted and the hunger for revenge when that justice is denied.


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In this book, Roxane Gay has collected 29 essays from survivors of sexual trauma that explore how our culture urges us to downplay the gravity of sexual harassment and violence. In these essays, the survivors discuss what happened and what happened after, the ways the trauma altered their lives and their ongoing struggle to heal.


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This moving memoir of Chessy Prout’s sexual assault at a boarding school is an overdue indictment of schools and other institutions that turn a blind eye to misogyny and sexual violence. This book should be read by all school administrators and policy makers across the country, as well as teens and their families.


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LGBTQ people face higher rates of sexual violence than heterosexual and/or cis-gendered people. Their ability to receive emotional support after an assault is often complicated by homo- or transphobic law enforcement and medical professionals. This affirming collection from 37 contributors will open your heart to the need to support all victims and survivors.


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Faith communities such as the Catholic and Southern Baptist churches are finally being called to account for allowing generations of ordained predators to abuse and assault the faithful. This devastating novel about a teenage boy whose life is in turmoil in the wake of being groomed and sexually assaulted by an abusive priest offers an important glance into the life of a male victim.


Let’s speak up about sexual violence.

Let’s shout together and make the world a better place.








Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)

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message 1: by Holly (new)

Holly Would like to see more discussion about male sexual assault victims (they're way more common than you think)


message 2: by Jillian (new)

Jillian Holly wrote: "Would like to see more discussion about male sexual assault victims (they're way more common than you think)"

I agree!


message 3: by Scott (new)

Scott Great of her to recommend her own books.


message 4: by Sana (new)

Sana Wow, I wasn't even aware there was a whole month dedicated to this topic :) I'm really amazed right now, especially since Laurie Halse Anderson handeled that topic so well in her novel ''Speak'', which is one of my favourite books of all time. As someone who experienced sexual assault (though it was never rape but touching me without my consent), I felt heard and taken seriously while reading her book, and since then, it's way easier for me to talk about it.
Let us bring more attention to that topic, without bashing genders and without blaming young girls and young boys whose ''no'' was not accepted!


message 5: by Deb (new)

Deb Jannerson Scott wrote: "Great of her to recommend her own books."

She didn't--the recommendation list starts with All the Rage. Why the snark?

I, for one, would recommend Laurie Halse Anderson's books, though.


message 6: by Deb (new)

Deb Jannerson Holly wrote: "Would like to see more discussion about male sexual assault victims (they're way more common than you think)"

Check out The Gospel of Winter, Not That Bad, and Queering Sexual Violence on the list above.


message 7: by Laura (new)

Laura L. Van Dam A recent one in Spanish Por qué volvías cada verano
Haven´t read but it was strongly recommended by people i know.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Scott wrote: "Great of her to recommend her own books."

She did not recommend any of her books on the list. If you mean the books by her that are in the body of the introduction, that is Goodreads doing - they do this every time in the Recommends articles.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Holly wrote: "Would like to see more discussion about male sexual assault victims (they're way more common than you think)"

Yes, agreed. I enjoyed Speak by this author and want to check out a few of these recs. I know that YA and childhood rape and abuse is important to discuss, but I would also like one of these lists to be about adult survivors or when it happens to adult women too. I've seen several for younger women and YA for these lists, but can't recall one for adults.


message 10: by Fremom3 (new)

Fremom3 Easy

This is one that I would recommend, as well.


message 11: by nitya (new)

nitya Wonderful list!!

And all survivors are valid, let’s not turn this into a “what about the men????” thing.


message 12: by flwr (new)

flwr I love this


message 13: by Magali (new)

Magali Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* wrote: "Holly wrote: "Would like to see more discussion about male sexual assault victims (they're way more common than you think)"

Yes, agreed. I enjoyed Speak by this author and want to check out a few ..."


I haven't read the other books but Not That Bad, that is in the list, has essays by survivors that are of different genders. It also has survivors of rapes while kids, of rapes while adult... It's in no way about only YA/childhood rape. Also, "YA" rape and childhood rape are very different experiences, it's weird to put them in the same "sub-category".


message 14: by Vikas (new)

Vikas I agree that we need more awareness and more open minds and way more discussion.


message 15: by Emma (new)

Emma Scott wrote: "Great of her to recommend her own books."

Uh, none of the books on that list are her own books.


message 16: by Chris (new)

Chris Evans Holly wrote: "Would like to see more discussion about male sexual assault victims (they're way more common than you think)"

Ya, Cassie Jaye had a good documentary that touched on it and the culture of silence around it, among other issues.


message 17: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I I didn’t know there was a month dedicated to this. I’m in tears just rom reading the first paragraph and barely made it through the rest. Sometimes I want to read about this while others you just can’t. Writing about it is the best thing for me to do. Sadly, the voice of what I write is still a silent voice. This should be a yearly dedicated topic for ‘all’ people. Thank you for this blog post. I’m not afraid to say it to the world if I have to it feel I need to. ‘Nobody’ should ever feel ashamed, be shamed, feel fearful, alone or be silenced or shunned based solely on he/she said before anyone knows the other side of the he/she said. Shamefully, too many people just take the word of the one is “so charming” and that destroys everyone and rips apart families.

Love these quotes/sayings:

“You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth and raging courage”

“To those who abuse: The sin is yours, the crime is yours and the shame is yours. To those who protect the perpetrators........making you as guilty...... etc etc. Flora Jessop

I’m not even coming back to this thread because, I know some may feel the same I do about sharing, but others will toss hate my way and I won’t engage with hate or judgement. I will, however, always speak my voice in hopes that someone else is helped in feeling less alone at the very least. I look forward to reading these books.


message 18: by AV (new)

AV Scott wrote: "Great of her to recommend her own books."

Given that the subject matter is sexual assault... It would be like making fun of Elizabeth Smart for including her own memoir in a list of stories about rape survivors.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Magali wrote: "I haven't read the other books but Not That Bad, that is in the list, has essays by survivors that are of different genders. It also has survivors of rapes while kids, of rapes while adult... It's in no way about only YA/childhood rape. Also, "YA" rape and childhood rape are very different experiences, it's weird to put them in the same "sub-category". "

I haven't read that particular book, and did not mean to indicate that all these books are restricted to age level. I've just noticed lists on Goodreads like this seem to have a large portion of aimed toward YA age group. It's good to have all the age groups at least, so I'm not saying that YA ones are not as valuable. And yes the experiences can be very different, which was kind of my point to make sure all ages are covered.


message 20: by Aishwarya (new)

Aishwarya Scott wrote: "Great of her to recommend her own books."

Prickly much? She hasn't recommended any of her books - that's her introduction.


message 21: by Holly (new)

Holly Nitya wrote: "Wonderful list!!

And all survivors are valid, let’s not turn this into a “what about the men????” thing."


I do acknowledge all survivors are valid, the main reason I brought it up is because male victims are never talked about and deserve as much awareness as female victims.


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