The thing which has really overwhelmed me, though, is the private emails I have had from so many women, telling me their own stories of abuse as children and teenagers. I will not tell you what they said--I do not intend to break the confidences I have been entrusted with. However, they all had one thing in common which I can reveal. Each told me that 'I'm not as brave as you. I'm not brave enough to speak out'. I want to say this to them. They were brave. They were brave enough to write to me. And I will try to be another voice for them, along with Laurie Halse Anderson, Cheryl Rainfield, Ellen Hopkins and the myriad wonderful writers of YA and other fiction all over the world who continue to let the sunshine into the dark places of abuse and fear and shame and guilt and enable the roses to grow. I'd like to leave you with Ellen Hopkins' wonderful poem on the subject of book banning from her article in today's Huffington Post. It says it all, really.
To you zealots and bigots and false
patriots who live in fear of discourse.
You screamers and banners and burners
who would force books
off shelves in your brand name
of greater good.
You say you're afraid for children,
innocents ripe for corruption
by perversion or sorcery on the page.
But sticks and stones do break
bones, and ignorance is no armor.
You do not speak for me,
and will not deny my kids magic
in favor of miracles.
You say you're afraid for America,
the red, white, and blue corroded
by terrorists, socialists, the sexually
confused. But we are a vast quilt
of patchwork cultures and multi-gendered
identities. You cannot speak for those
whose ancestors braved
You say you're afraid for God,
the living word eroded by Muhammed
and Darwin and Magdalene.
But the omnipotent sculptor of heaven
and earth designed intelligence.
Surely you dare not speak
for the father, who opens
his arms to all.
A word to the unwise.
Torch every book.
Char every page.
Burn every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.
© Ellen Hopkins 2010
PS: If you would like to join the fight against book banning, please sign up to SPEAK LOUDLY. The more who join in, the more powerful our voices will be. And if you think that small things don't make a difference, just try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.