Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Don't Hurt Laurie! by Willo Davis Roberts

Don't Hurt Laurie! is a book that I remember vividly from childhood.  It was written by Willo Davis Roberts and was published in 1977.  I probably read it around 1980 to 1982, and I read it four or more times.  I recall checking it out from the library at least four times, maybe more.  I was obsessed with the book and couldn't get enough of it.

Don't Hurt Laurie! is about a girl who is physically and emotionally abused by her mother, Annabelle.  Laurie has been taken to the hospital many times for burns, broken bones, and cuts.  As soon as anyone begins to notice that Laurie gets hurt a bit too often, Annabelle forces the family to move.  Laurie has a stepbrother and stepsister, and Annabelle never hurts them.  Laurie's stepfather and his mother also have no idea what is happening.  Laurie is afraid to tell anybody, because she is certain that no one will believe her.  If no one believes her, then Annabelle's abuse will worsen.

I have always remembered this book vividly, even though I hadn't read it since childhood.  I remembered Laurie and a friend playing in a ravine behind the property.  I remembered the abuse.  And I remembered that for some reason, this book spoke to me, which is why I read it so many times.  I was not abused as a child, but for some reason, I strongly identified with Laurie.  After so many years, I didn't know exactly why I loved the book so much, but I decided to read the book again to see what I could figure out.  I knew why practically as soon as I began reading the book.

Laurie's personality is a 100% match for my own.  I have never read any other book that matches my personality and how I was as a child as closely as this book does.  Laurie is shy and doesn't make friends easily.  Laurie reflects on how others ignore her and don't even notice her.  She loves to read.  She can't think up the right words in conversations.

This book still speaks to me.  I still love it.

On page 59, Laurie has "no refuge anywhere, except within herself."  She has to "withdraw into a world of make-believe in her books."  As did I, since I never fit in with the other children.

On page 83, Laurie's new teacher raps her across the knuckles with a stick for not paying attention, hurting her.  Even the teacher abuses the poor girl!  I'm not sure if Davis meant that specifically when she wrote the story, since that sort of thing was more acceptable back then.  Perhaps she did.  I doubt I thought anything of that when I read the book as a child.  But it really stands out now as more physical abuse.

This book also spoke to other children.  I read reviews on Goodreads, and multiple reviewers stated how they read this book over and over again.  One person who was not a victim of abuse stated that she wondered if the librarian might have thought she was a victim.  Another person who loved the book was a victim of abuse, and it gave her courage.  And yet another reviewer wrote that she got help for an abused friend after reading the book.

For those of us who fit a certain personality type or have had certain experiences, this is an extremely compelling and outstanding book.  It will always be special to me.

No comments: