Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Square Fish
First published October 22nd, 1999
Genres: YA, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon
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’ve been wanting to read this book for some years now. But I would have loved to have this when I was younger… These type of books are hard to read, sure, but they are important and they teach and create awareness. I believe my life would have gained a lot if I had the opportunity of reading this book when I was younger.
I’ve noticed that in the synopsis it’s not said why Melinda doesn’t talk, but for some reason, I went into the book knowing and that was actually what made me want to read the book, plus I think it’s important to mention since it might be triggering for some people. This book deals with rape and bullying. I truly believe that knowing this will not lessen your reading experience, at least it sure didn’t do it for me.
This book is about Melinda and from the beginning, we can see that she is a sweet and nice young girl, but she is quite depressed and carries a heavy weight on her shoulders. After a party, she went down-hill because for one of her actions she is turned into an outcast. Everyone despises her and treats her awful, which is really hard to see because what she did was actually the right thing to do… It’s really hard to see her school year develop and see how difficult everything has been for her. How mean people can be, still manages to astonish me and especially in this novel, everything was done so realistically that it really raised some emotions!
This might be quite a short novel but it tells everything needed to be said. We see Melinda slowly change and get stronger and consequently giving us hope that everything CAN get better. Her story really moved me. How she started slowly being able to speak, to say what she thought to be right.
It’s not that there’s much of plot because there isn’t, but the message the book wants to transmit is done perfectly. It was… Emotional. Powerful. And Heck Sincere and Realistic.
No means no and everyone should have the power to speak up for themselves and the earlier kids learn that, the better! This is an extremely important and strong novel that I think should be read by everyone! It can help. It can change someone’s life. Dang it, I truly believe it could have helped me… So, adults and especially younger readers, read this!
Have you read this one yet? What did you think of it? Let’s discuss it in the comments below!