Back then, and still to this day, people all around the world face challenges and obstacles they can’t overcome on their own. The saying “writers are the voices of the people” means that there are some authors that use their writing and platform to address these issues people face. These ordinary people have a voice, but it’s not loud enough to be heard by others which is where the writers come in to help out. By people reading a novel about social issues, they would see just how bad life is for others and realize that these problems are real and still occurring. It’s important that society is aware of this because it’s not just something that should be disregarded or ignored. The point is to show how the characters address their issues, so others can make their own personal connections. One writer that makes these points in their writing is Laurie Halse Anderson.
She has multiple novels, a majority in which the main character faces a situation that real people can relate to. One example that shows this is from one of her books titled Speak. This book is about a girl named Melinda who gets sexually abused by a guy from her school, Andy Evans, and later goes mute as a result of this. She thinks that keeping quiet about what happened would make it any less true, and that eventually she might even be able to erase it from her mind completely. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Andy continues to bully her emotionally and physically any chance he gets knowing she wouldn’t do anything about it. She only comes clean about what happened to her when she fears that her best friend Rachel might possibly suffer the same fate.
Rachel was the first person she told, and unfortunately she didn’t take her seriously. However, Melinda finally came to terms and accepted what happened to her and for that she felt better. The book ends with her life seeming to turn around. She takes on new activities, she reconnects with old friends, and she even finally faces Andy and stands up for herself. It turns out that there were other girls in the story who went through the same thing Melinda did because of Andy, and they learn by Melinda’s example. The author uses the issue of sexual abuse and violence in general to allow readers to comprehend what it’s like for someone who goes through this. It can happen to anyone and it can’t be looked over as if it was no problem.
Another example would be of Anderson’s novel Wintergirls. This book is about a girl named Lia who is anorexic and has suicidal thoughts, and her best friend named Cassie who suffers from bulimia. With the two best friends dealing with their eating disorders, it only seems to make their relationship dangerous as they’re both starving themselves. In the book, Cassie, not being able to deal with it anymore, cuts ties with Lia. For six months they didn’t talk until Lia receives over thirty missed calls from Cassie. Lia decides not to answer, only to find out that Cassie locked herself in a motel room and killed herself by starvation. Lia feels guilty and turns to self harm as a way of coping with the pain.
The author describes Lia as “neither dead nor alive. A wintergirl caught between two worlds. A ghost with a beating heart.” At the end of the story, Lia comes to the realization that starving herself will consequently only lead to her downfall, and because of her disorder, in no way will she ever truly accomplish her goal of fixing her body considering her true appearance will never match what her eyes make her see.
She ends up getting help knowing it will be a challenge, but it’s for the better. There are people in the real world that suffer and live with this, and again the writer uses her characters to express the difficult problems that come with eating disorders and suicidal thoughts and attempts to address this problem. The author takes real, plausible issues that can happen to anyone and makes her characters go through that as a way of allowing people who face the same thing relate to how the characters feel and act. By doing so, the writer is making these problems aware for all people who read the story and spreading the idea that these things are unavoidable and can’t get away unnoticed, but there is a way to overcome these problems and the process should be understood. It can also help people who are going through something similar learn to speak out about it. Many of these issues are problems regular people can’t bring up as they wouldn’t be heard, so the author brings them up in her stories and allow her characters to do the talking for the public in a voice they can register.