Author Appreciation Week: Laurie Halse Anderson

Have you read Wintergirls? Speak? Any of Laurie Halse Anderson’s other YA novels? If you have, then you’re going to understand immediately what I’ll be talking about in this post. If you haven’t yet, well go ahead and read the post, then head out and pick up one of Laurie’s books.

For me, Laurie Halse Anderson epitomizes the courage of young-adult novels and young-adult writers. And I’m not talking about the courage of defending her books, of facing arguments about whether or not kids should be reading them. I’m talking about the courage to write the stories in the first place.

Laurie’s books consistently blow me away. They’re not easy books for me, a reader who often builds her to-read pile out of humor and fantasy and escapism, to pick up. They’re not easy books for me to turn to Page 1 in. I don’t leave the real world when I read Laurie’s books, I’m thrust sharply and deeply into it. With a grace and strength of writing I haven’t found many other places.

I read Laurie’s books for two reasons.

First, I read Laurie’s books because I know that I will be caught up in a story that doesn’t let me go, one that–even as it makes me face unpleasant truths—takes me along for such a ride that I don’t want to get off. Laurie takes on hard topics in her stories, topics people often call issues, but she never fails to weave those topics into a tight, fast, plot with complex, painfully believable characters. The amount of research Laurie must do for her books, I can’t even begin to fathom, but the facts of her research never jump out as facts; they merge seamlessly into the main character’s life–her problems, choices, and actions.

That’s the first reason I read Laurie’s books.

The second reason is that Laurie reminds me, as a writer, what I want to strive for. I’ll be honest. I don’t know that I will ever choose a subject matter that has a pain at its heart as strong as Laurie chooses. I don’t know that I will want to or be able to. And that’s okay. Reading Laurie’s books, however, reminds me that I do want to tell whatever story I choose with as much honesty and truth as I possibly can. I want to do this for myself, as that writer, and for the teens who I hope will read my books. Laurie reminds me, with every word she writes, that truth is what those teens deserve.

I appreciate both reasons equally.

A few more Author Appreciation posts for you to browse:

Thanks to Sara at Novel Novice for the avatar!


  1. The first book I read by LHA was Fever 1793. I was amazed. I didn’t realize she wrote historical fiction. Then my daughter brought home these Vet Volunteer chapter books. She has written across genres, styles, age groups — I’m beginning to think the woman doesn’t sleep!


    • beckylevine says:

      Sherrie, I think Chains is her most recent HF. She does write so much, and I think she probably DOESN’T sleep. I think that’s when she gets her running in! 🙂


  2. What a moving post! I’ve only read Speak by LHA but I plan to read more/own a couple more. I love how honest she is in her writing, and it certainly does set a standard for YA writers everywhere 🙂


    • beckylevine says:

      April, thanks for stopping by. Speak blew me away–that was the first of Laurie’s books I ever read. Wintergirls won’t let you down!


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