Written by Michael Rouleau
New York Times-bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson visited Eastern on April 27 and April 28 for a Q&A and book signing, as well as to speak with students in two English classes. Anderson is the author of highly acclaimed young adult books, known for tackling tough subjects.
Published almost 20 years ago, her book “Speak,” a National Book Award Finalist, shares the story of Melinda Sordino, who was raped at an end-of-the-summer party and is trying to move on with her life. “I was the victim of sexual violence when I was 13 years old,” said Anderson, who said she wrote the book as a way to process her own experience. She also wrote it during the time when her daughter was becoming a teenager, when Anderson was daunted by her evolving role as a mother.
“I write books about things people struggled to talk about,” said Anderson. Speaking to the variety of books she’s written and their span of subject matter. She added, “One of the things I love about children’s literature is that there’s more room to play.” She commented that readers are often surprised that she is the writer. “That’s good; it means the focus is on the books, not the author.”
The Q&A was moderated by Education Professor Susannah Richards; Anderson’s visit was sponsored by Eastern’s Education and English departments, the J. Eugene Smith Library and the Sexual Assault & Interpersonal Violence Response Team. The event was organized in part to help Eastern students celebrate #ReadingWithOutWalls Month, a nationwide campaign program celebrating reading and diversity.