Sunday, January 6, 2008

"Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson

This is an awesome debut novel, mainly geared towards the young adult reader, but powerful to anyone that picks up the book.

Melinda Sordino starts her freshman year at high school as an outcast, ostracized for calling the police during a summer party. Everyone knows she called them; no one knows why. The reason is Melinda's dark and painful secret (one you'll know if you've seen the movie of the same name). Due to the summer circumstances and her school situation, Melinda remains almost mute for her entire freshman year - thus, the title of the book.

It's a rough but honest look at high school, a time I certainly don't remember enjoying all that much. As Melinda points out, the school is divided into groups such as the Jocks, the Brains, the Marthas, etc. If you don't "get into" a good group, you're looked down upon by the rest of the school. If you're like Melinda, belonging to no group at all - even a bad one, forget it. You're nobody, invisible and unheard. The teachers aren't much better, and the author wisely uses nicknames that Melinda gives them, all but her art teacher, Mr. Freeman. He's the only adult (including her own parents) that seems to sense her pain and reaches out to her.

I can't say it's a fun book because it's not; it's not meant to be. But it is a good book, and I highly recommend it to the young and adult alike. You won't be sorry you read it.

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