This week on the Debutante Ball we celebrate the publication of Lynn K. Hall’s important and moving memoir, CAGED EYES: AN AIR FORCE CADET’S STORY OF RAPE AND RESILIENCE. To start out her pub week, Lynn shares a bit of her story in a moving New York Times Op-Ed, When a Rape Goes Unreported. This week, Lynn has asked the Debs to write about books and activism and how the two can entwine.
I met Lynn K. Hall this weekend, along with my fellow Debutante sisters. We gathered in Amy Poeppel’s New York apartment with a stunning view of the NYC city skyline including the skyscraping One World Trade Center. We knew that Lynn’s NYT op-ed was appearing on Sunday morning, but on a whim, Amy suggested we check the NYT website. And there it was, her story, the one that we all knew she agonized about. She bared an incredibly personal part of her life to millions of people. Her story is now officially bigger than the paperback we had held in our hands.
I’m crying a bit as I write this, as I think about the bravery of my friend. As I think about the emotion that ripped through us as we studied her words on the screen. I wanted to hurt the people that hurt her; we all did in that moment. We all still do. Someone close to me in my life was raped, so this is ever present in my mind. And just as the rapist of that person is free to walk in the world, so are Lynn’s attackers. They barely faced any retribution. They wander among us, among people you may even know.
The other thing that is now free in the world are Lynn’s words. Her words ripped a hole in my heart when I first read them and I am sure they will do the same for tens of thousands of others when they read Caged Eyes. Her words will make others angry. They will make others think. Some may speak out. Some may march. Some may pick up their pocket book and donate to a charity. Some may change the way they raise their boys. Some may change the way they teach.
The point I’m making is that this book will change you. At minimum, it will make you think. On the other end of the spectrum, it may inspire you to change the world.
Books are powerful for this very reason. There is a reason why 1984, Handmaid’s Tale, Brave New World, Farenheit 451, It Can’t Happen Here, The New Jim Crow, and I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark, are all in the top 100 of Amazon right now. Even more telling is that a copy of the United States Constitution is also on the list. Books teach us about what is possible. And what we don’t want to be possible at all.
It’s a hard year to be a Debutante. It’s hard to want to push our books out in the world when politics are at the forefront of everyone’s mind. And while we Debs want you to go out and buy our books, every one of us recognizes the importance of words right now. Sometimes it’s important to escape to a different world. Sometimes it’s important to read about how to change the one we live in.
To get you started:
And if you are a writer, consider joining PEN America.