Nov 20, 2009

Nostalgic Friday: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Welcome back to Nostalgic Friday! Since I love all things historical (culturally, physically, and personally) I do a post on Fridays honoring some awesome book that is a bit older. Many of them are books I enjoyed in my teens and others are books that I discovered as an adult that I think are relevant to YA readers.

Today ISpeak Cover'm featuring Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. This was one of the best books I read for pleasure in middle school. It's hard to believe it has been out for 10 years already. Am I really that old?

Anyway, the story is about quiet high school freshman Melinda and her struggle to face her situation. Her parents pretty much ignore her existence, communicating mostly through notes left behind. She is an outcast at school and doesn't really fit in with anyone. Especially since that night. The night she called the police to the big senior party right before school started was the end of her existence as she knew it. She called about underage drinking, but really it was just to get the party broken up after an upperclassmen took advantage of her while she was inebriated.

Now facing social pariah-hood, Melinda withdraws into herself. She sleeps a lot and avoids any situation that makes her anxious. While she maintains decent grades, her true love lies in art class where she is free to express herself. Eventually the truth of that night comes out when she tries to rescue her former best friend from dating Melinda's rapist. The fiasco that ensues and the ending will break your heart with emotions.

A meaningful and deep read, Speak was the start of Anderson's ability to tackle such difficult, but real subject matter. Date rape is an all-too-frequent occurrence in today's society and Anderson managed to portray, no just the victim's experience, but the way that experience affected the whole community. The characters are real, emotionally charged, and feel like someone you know. Melinda in an amazing character to get to know and as you read the story, you really begin to understand and participate in her rollercoaster ride of emotions and feelings.

Speak sheds light on a sensitive subject with delicate care and helped readers see the many facets of this unspeakable event. While it obviously deals with difficult subject matter, this book is great reading for older middle schoolers and high schoolers alike. If you like this book, be sure to check out her other books like Wintergirls or Twisted.

No comments: