Special: $7.29 (Regular price: $11.29)
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux
Reviewer: Melissa on May 22, 2010
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Has anything ever happened to you that you couldn’t tell anyone about? Perhaps you were worried that your friends or parents wouldn’t believe you. Perhaps you didn’t know how to narrate your experience. Perhaps you just needed some time to work it all out for yourself first, and then, maybe, you would tell others. In Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, something happened to Melinda at a party over the summer, so she called the cops. Now she has to start the first day of 9th grade, knowing that all of her old friends hate her…but they just don’t understand. And she can’t make them understand because she still can’t speak about what happened. She can’t really speak at all.
Speak is nothing short of a brilliant depiction of a teen with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD affects every person differently, but for Melinda one of the key symptoms is the inability to express herself. For 8 months, she can’t even admit what happened to herself, but what’s more, for even longer, she barely speaks to anyone at all. Since there is no way that it would take you 10 months to read (the entire school year), it’s hard at first to understand the length that her silence must have lasted. However, if you can take the time and think of something that happened to you that had lasted around the same length of time, you’ll be overwhelmed by the weight of this silence. Is it any wonder that this realistic and powerful narrative of survival will stick with you for a long time to come?
If you’re worried that this novel seems too dark, too depressing, then don’t. Even as some of the worst days of Melinda’s young life are passing, you’ll have a little laugh to yourself when Melinda’s sense of irony kicks in. Instead of a dialogue driven narrative, the reader gets an inside look into the mind of this mute, witty, intelligent teen. We see her fears, what it’s like to be a complete outcast from the intensely social society of a high school and even some of her desires. Slowly, through a number of symbols that Anderson uses throughout the novel, including a huge list of at least 23 important words that begin with the letter ‘s,’ you’ll pick up the fragments of Melinda’s memory, which lead not only to understanding what happened to her, but also to a way for her to heal. In short, this novel is hopeful, even as it is an emotional read.
Whether you are a teen or an adult reader, you will find a lot to appreciate about this multiple award-winning novel. Pick it up, and read the 10th anniversary edition of Speak today, you won’t regret it.
Buy Speak today!