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Fever 1793, Catalyst, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson MAG
There should be a shrine to Laurie Halse Anderson, complete with an eight-foot statue wearing a cape. She is such an important and influential person that all teens should be aware of her work.
I was first introduced to her when I read Fever 1793, which is about the yellow fever epidemic. I read it from cover to cover, and when I closed it, I was literally in awe. I loved the fact that the story was realistic. The yellow fever epidemic really happened, and when I realized that, it was like a light bulb going off in my head. How could such a tragic event happen, yet I’d never heard about it? I was probably 12 years old at that time, and books for my age never broached such depressing yet important topics. I needed more.
Fever 1793 led me to challenge myself and read books outside of my recommended age group. And so I devoured classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, murder mysteries by Mary Higgins Clark, and popular series like Harry Potter and Twilight. And I will always remember Fever 1793 as the book that changed my outlook.
When I picked up Catalyst at my library and realized it was by the same author, I was overjoyed. I had high expectations. I expected it to be good – better than good. I expected it to be another emotional, truthful, and extraordinary book.
And it was. It taught me how imperfect everyone is, even those who act like they own the world. And before the book ends, Anderson surprised me again with tragic events that pushed the limits of young-adult literature. She hit at controversial topics, yet taught me something that I couldn’t have learned any other way. I was able to put myself into her characters’ shoes and feel their emotions, both good and bad. And that had an effect on me.
My next book by Anderson was Speak. Parents tend to lead their kids away from topics like rape. Sure, it’s not the most pleasant thing to read about as a child, but rape happens to kids all around the world. It’s there and it’s the plain raw truth, no matter how difficult it may be.
So when I read Speak and learned how much someone can be affected by rape, it hit me straight in the heart. Here I was again, reading yet another controversial book by this author, yet I didn’t have any of the reactions that adults would assume. I didn’t feel scared or worried, I felt grateful and sympathetic. Being able to see through the eyes of someone else – someone who has gone through these tragic events – taught me more than I’d ever expected from a book.
Anderson gave me three heartfelt stories that changed my life and outlook, and I hope she will continue to affect others like me.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
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Being inexhaustible, life and nature are a constant stimulus for a creative mind.
You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.
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If you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for the shore.
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"Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly."
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"Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."
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"Don't punish yourself," she heard her say again, but there would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness too. That was writing."
--Markus Zusak, "The Book Thief"
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Yes it's hard to write, but it's harder not to.
"I didn’t have any of the reactions that adults would assume. I didn’t feel scared or worried, I felt grateful and sympathetic."
That is wonderful. I think adults often underestimate teenagers, so I appreciate this proof that teens can gain a lot more from books like Speak than what the adults think they can.
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Life is like a video game but theres no reset button
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