What Does A Rejection Letter Meme Have To Do With Speak?

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Reprinted from the book Other People’s Rejection Letters by Bill Shapiro. Copyright © 2010 by Bill Shapiro. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.

Bill Shapiro has spent a considerable amount of time collecting rejection letters received from the famous, like Andy Warhol for a proposed exhibit at the MOMA, and the anonymous, like those who have their relationship end over a text message. In the article “‘Other People’s Rejection Letters’: 8 Of the Craziest Rejection Letters” featured at The Huffington Post, Shapiro makes a compelling argument that in these tough economic times, graduating students will face a considerable number of rejection letters. However, it is these letters that will help bring them to their true potential later on down the road.

One example of these letters is the image to the left of this article text. In case you have difficulty reading it from the picture, it’s transcribed below:

How come I’m not responding to your letter?

Because I do not want to be with you. Not now. Not ever. Not just friends. Not anything.

So can we just stop this?

I read this article for the first time, while simultaneously reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. There is definitely a lot more going on in this novel than a single rejection letter. In fact, Melinda is ostracized by the entire school for calling the cops during a summer party. The rejection is palpable, but no one knows why she called them that night and why she refuses to speak to anyone. If they only knew, then likely they wouldn’t have rejected her, but Melinda is really worried that no one will believe her, which would be even worse.

While there is more going on then just a single rejection, there is, indeed, a single rejection letter taped to Melinda’s locker on Valentine’s Day. When she finds the message “thanks for understanding” and that a friendship gift has been returned, it is devastating. At the same time, however, this single act is a catalyst that helps Melinda live up to her potential.

Why do I make this argument? Well, sometimes rejection will make you stronger. Sometimes rejection will force you to open up your true self. In my opinion, Anderson shows that the rejection Melinda receives from her “friend” is part of the driving force that allows her to heal from what happened at the party and to finally speak from her authentic self.

So, what does a rejection letter meme have to do with Speak: I’d say everything. However, I’d love to hear what you think about Shapiro’s article, Anderson’s novel Speak and this commentary, so please leave your comments below!

  3 comments for “What Does A Rejection Letter Meme Have To Do With Speak?

  1. Shari
    May 20, 2010 at 12:16 am

    Great analogy. :) Love the idea of rejection as catalyst. I think rejection really can make us stronger & make us dig deep & find the courage to try again (but I still prefer acceptance, lol).

  2. May 20, 2010 at 4:56 am

    Thanks for your comment Shari! I agree – I prefer acceptance in general as I’m sure most people do. At the same time though, I really think it depends on who is accepting you and why they are doing it. Some people experience the “acceptance” of others, which really amounts to them being used. Some of the rejection that Melinda faces in the novel amounts to this false type of acceptance. In these instances, rejection is not only a catalyst, but also, quite possibly, better for her.

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