Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson spoke to me…

I first and foremost must thank the awesome ladies on Twitter for turning me onto this book. It is by no means new, since it was published eleven years ago. Actually the year I graduated high school. I wish I would have known about it then. I say that now but as a senior in high school, who knows if I actually would have read it. I pulled a full class load that year AND a full-time job.

Apparently this book is on some school required reading lists and people are all in an uproar. It is being classified as pornographic and violent, not suitable for impressionable minds to read. I highly disagree and find it ironic that the main cause of the uproar, was a man. As if he has any clue what goes on in a female teen girls mind, or the stuff that they deal with on a daily basis in high school.

The book focuses on the life of Melinda, an outcast. You can tell from the beginning that she is only recently an outcast for some reason. Her one time friends are no longer speaking to her, she is ridiculed by her other peers and her home life is lonely. Her parents are simply way to busy to deal with a moody teenager. She goes through the motions day by day but she never actually functions. She does befriend a new girl in school, Heather, but even that doesn’t last. Heather wants to be popular, she has no need for a moody, depressed friend and so even she abandons Melinda.

The only person that actually hears the real Melinda is the art teacher. He seems to understand her pain even if Melinda doesn’t actually ever voice it. Through her art she is crying out for attention.

We find out that the reason Melinda has become a outcast was because she called the police at a high school party. However, no one actually takes the time to find out why. Teenagers are so self-absorbed that they never take the time to find the answer, they simply jump to conclusions. Melinda was raped. She was drunk. She was in shock.

The message of the story screams at me. Even if you can’t talk to your parents. Even if you can’t voice yourself to your friends. Find it within yourself to speak out. If that person happen to be a crazy art teacher, fine. The point being, SPEAK OUT. Don’t suffer in silence.

Now, everyone that knows me knows I rarely pick up a YA book. There has to be serious buzz around it for me to try it out. This book was one of those instances. I heard people wanted it banned and so I was curious. Maybe I did it to thumb my nose at society. Whatever it was, I picked it up, I read it in one sitting. I cried. I do not regret it. To call this book pornographic is simply ludicrous. If someone thinks rape is porno, they need their mind examined. This book is a heartfelt tale of sadness, love and then redemption of ones self. What better message is there to send to a teen girl? I know personally, I plan on buying an actual copy and giving it to my daughter when she hits her teen years. I want her to know that she can ALWAYS come to me with ANYTHING. But if she is a typical  teen, she won’t. I would much rather she talk to a friend, teacher or counselor then have her keep it in and eat at her.

Now this isn’t an actual book review…but I am giving this book 5 stars anyway. I urge you to read it. Read it for youself. Read it for your daughters. And don’t let anyone ever tell you what you should or should not read.

4 Comments

  1. It’s on it’s way to me as I write as part of my participation in BBW and BanThis!. After I read it, my own Not-So-Bebe Girl Autumn will read it … and her 21-year-old sister .. and it will be passed around to their friends (’cause that’s what we do with must-read books here!)

  2. How did you not read this in HS? Naturally Glenoak was behind 🙂 I read it. It’s a good one. Send it my way and I’ll read it again 🙂

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