Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Published: May 2011
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, YA.
Goodreads rating: 4
The first ten lies they tell you in high school.
“Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.
Speak was a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature.
I now understand how it is that this little book gain that much hype and worldwide fame that still now, almost 20 years later, the central theme of it feels relevant. This book is very much alive in our everyday lives, which is sad to admit and the fact that it has been banned it only adds to the importance of reading it!
This novel is written and reads like the personal diary of Melinda Sordino. We follow her (after something terrible happened) as she delves into her freshman year of highschool. We all know those years are particularly difficult for a young woman of 14 years of age. Adding to that, she is going through some very painful and personal changes that will affect and shape her in the long haul. How she chooses to go mostly mute and the fact that nobody cares enough to find the reason behind it, broke my heart. The comic relief and what lets us & her breath throughout her year was that singular art teacher, whom everyone would like to have on her/his corner. It being a very simple story didn’t lessen the shock of what IT did and the mature way Mel had to deal with everything. I didn’t remember 14 yo being that mature, looking at you David, but in Mel’s case she had to mature earlier than she should have, which makes everything sadder. The fact that she ends up resurfacing from the ashes when she does game a high and empowerment rush that I was with her, it was finally time to speak up!
I feel like I’ve outgrown this story, but it’s never to late to give it a serious chance. The picture drawn by the author is so authentic and feels so sincere that men/women of all ages could relate to one of the characters pictured here. I think it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for you to not fall for Mel, understand her and cope with her and feel enraged of everyone around her not giving a damn!
Go ahead and give this one a chance. Once you’ve done that you can check out the motion picture based on this story, because although some things have been changed and in my opinion the mutism should have been more prevalent, they still made a great little film. Here.