Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson

Summary: Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that's not safe. Because there's something she's trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. Picture from Amazon.com and summary from back of the book.

My Review: Melinda Sordino is a witty, artistic, tortured teenage girl, trying to survive an already difficult transition to high school with her entire world against her. She cannot communicate with her parents; it doesn't help that her parents cannot communicate with each other either. Her friends have left her to face the clique-ish world of high school alone. She has no one to stand by her but herself. And she's not much company. The story takes place over a year, her freshman year, with her twisted perspective describing all she sees--Principal Principal and Mr. Neck to name a few of her descriptions. Despite being so alone and deeply depressed, she finds ironic, dark humor in the false world of high school. She also finds solace in artwork and silence. But, it's her silence that starts to eat her alive.

Imagery and wit keep this book from bordering the realm of too depressing. Much of what Melinda experiences most readers can relate to: strange teachers, obscure rules, bullying, harassment, isolation, lies, and betrayal.

It's Melinda's steady, daily triumph over life that keeps the reader engaged. By the end of the book, Melinda has triumphed over much of what has plagued her and the reader is rooting her on.

For books on such a difficult topic as rape, this book skirts many of the grotesqueness of rape and deals more with the aftermath of such an ordeal. Considering there are enough students who have dealt with this atrocity in their own lives, and need an outlet to understand what they lived through, this book is a good place to start. It's also a good resource for students wanting to understand someone who is dealing with such abuse. It gives hope, clarifies who's at fault, and validates the victim.

I'm not sure I read this book at the right time in life for me--having just had my second baby girl may not have been wise as I started having horrible dreams of what could happen to my two girls. I recommend this to any teacher of teenage kids and any parent wanting to understand or remember life during these painful years. There were times I wanted to put the book down and not finish just because of the depressing subject matter, which is probably why I gave it the rating I did. Overall, it's worth at least reading once and definitely is worth the read if you're dealing with the horrible reality of rape and abuse.

My Rating: 4 Stars

If I could sum it up in once sentence: A raw, honest look at a victim of rape in the brutal world of adolescence.

2 comments:

MindySue said...

Fantastic review Kari! So glad to have you. I understand what you meant about how hard it was to read this book post-partum. I've read it too and it definitely would be hard to keep reading because of the subject matter. I kept reading though and it was definitely worth it.

Loraine said...

You have a nice review! Here's mine: http://lorxiebookreviews.blogspot.com/2012/07/speak-by-laurie-halse-anderson.html Have a nice day!

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