Published by Puffin on April 1st, 2001
Genres: Young Adult
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"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.
I’ve had my sight set on this book for a while and finally I got around to it.
Though it took me a while to get into the writing style and into the character’s head, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson drew me in and kept me turning pages until long past my bedtime.
It’s the story of Melinda. A freshman girl whose life changes at a partyÔÇöirrevocably.
At school, she’s shunned for calling the cops. She becomes the school outcastÔÇöwithout friends, not even friendly faces. Speaking would only cause more trouble. So she bottles everything up. But on the inside, she’s screaming and raging, her spirit slowly dying while she hides the truth of what really happened at the party. The truth of why her whole life has changed.
Unable to talk to anyone, she withdraws more and more and the readers gets to be part of the process, the loneliness she’s feeling.
Similar to a journal, she shares her thoughts and feelings. What I found at first to be strange was her sharing trivial information about her days at school or home and the people she encountered. But there is so much she says between the lines and so much she doesn’t say that gives her words new meaning.
At times, it’s one simple sentence that demonstrates the gravity of her pain and despair. And it’s that subtlety that really packs a punch and knocked me on my butt at times. The book touches deeply and tactfully conveys the despair many girls and boys, men, and women are forced to face.
4 speaking-up-is-hard-to-do stars.
~Review by Paula