Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

I am Outcast. The kids behind me laugh so loud I know they’re laughing about me. I can’t help myself. I turn around. It’s Rachel, surrounded by a bunch of kids wearing clothes that most definitely did not come from the EastSide Mall. Rachel Briun, my ex-best friend. She stares at something above my left ear. Words climb up my throat. This was the girl who suffered through Brownies with me, who taught me how to swim, who understood about my parents, who didn’t make fun of my bedroom. If there is anyone in the entire galaxy I am dying to tell what really happened, it’s Rachel. My throat burns.

Her eye meet mine for a second. “I hate you,” she mouths silently.

Melinda Sordino’s freshman year is off to a horrible start. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now her friends - and even strangers - all hate her. Months pass and things aren’t getting better. She’s a pariah. The lowest of the low. Avoided by everyone. But eventually, she’ll reveal what happened at the party. And when she finally speaks the truth, everything will change.

I would never have picked up Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, if it wasn’t for #YASaves. I saw a post on how this book affected someone’s life and my curiosity got the best of me. So while I waited for my train one night, I wandered into a bookstore, picked it up, flipped through and then decided to take it home with me.

I’m very happy I did.

Speak is a voice for the voiceless. As Melinda tells her story I had to stop and listen. The emotions that seeped though the pages hit me like a wreaking ball. Her withdrawal, her fear, her inability to say anything, to speak up for herself; Laurie Halse Anderson did a great job at capturing these emotions in black and white.

I felt the frustration she felt at not being able to tell her use-to-be-best friend what happened. The numbness when she didn’t know how to explain what happened to her to her parents - would they even listen? Melinda whispered in my ears during the day, telling me her story. She spoke to me at night. She haunted my every move until the very end. As tears streamed down my face and the final page was turned, I found myself wanting more of her story.

I’m very happy that I picked up Speak - whether you need a voice, or you need to learn to listen - it’s a book for everyone.

1 comment:

  1. This book deals with an all too common occurrence. Parents often know and perhaps even expect their children to engage in some underage partying with drinking. Even the best of parents may not be able to keep their children from sneaking into the realm of teenage wild oats sewing at least once or twice.
    The most dangerous part, though, is that teens are still children, and children are apt to go along with their friends, and to believe that nothing really bad can possibly happen. Parents, too, would like to believe that, while the news stations report stories of teenagers engaging in this type of partying behavior suffering serious consequences, it will never happen to "my kid." It will always be some other kid that gets in the drunk-driving accident, accidentally overdoses on some pills, drinks so much they get alcohol poisoning, or maybe even gets so intoxicated that they aren't able to fight off a rapist.
    Mature pre-teens and all teens (especially girls) should read this book. Parents should read it as well and then open a dialogue about it. The issues that the main character suffers through are very realistic, and the other things that could have happened to her are worth talking about, as well.