Open Thread: What’s the Most Empowering Book You’ve Ever Read?

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I was visiting our friends over at today when I spotted something that made me pause for a few moments to catch my breath. Apparently, this month is the 15th anniversary of Laurie Halse Anderson’s book, Speak, so Frisky writer Jessica Wakeman did an interview with her in honor of the novel, as well as the fact that Speak‘s publisher, Macmillan, is matching donations to RAINN dollar-for-dollar during April. It is an awesome interview, so you should really hop on over to read it.

The reason it struck me so hard is because I remember reading it when I was a kid. Although it came out when I was 10, I read it a few years later after I was assaulted. I don’t know how I found it or how quickly I read it or whether I cried (a lot of those years are still blurry like a dirty contact lens), but I do know I needed it at the time. And I needed it some years later, when I attended the play version at Fayetteville-Manlius High School. (It’s right where I grew up, and it’s where the author went to school as a teen.)

I also know my mother needed it years later, when she was coming to terms with things that had happened to me. I tried to explain them to her, but it’s hard when you’re talking to your parents about awful things like that; sometimes, it feels like you’re hurting them by even broaching the topic, so you just avoid doing so. When she met Laurie Halse Anderson at a book signing some years ago, she just cried because she felt so overwhelmed at it all. After she told me that, I wound up reading the book again as an adult and the same bizarrely comforting feeling came over me that I felt as a kid; camaraderie, even when it’s with a fictional character, is a powerful tool.

So, I ask of you folks: What’s the most empowering book you read as an adolescent?

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