Genre: YA fiction
From her first moment in Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she's an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops - a major infraction in high-school society - so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know glare at her. She retreats into her head, where the lies and hypocrisies of high school stand in stark relief to her own silence. But it's not so comfortable in her head, either - there's something banging around in there that she doesn't want to think about. Try as she might to avoid it, it won't go away, until there is a painful confrontation (from back of book).For such a small book, I wasn't expecting such an impact. I wasn't expective to love this book in every way possible. But I officially do. Laurie Halse Anderson has made her book stand out from all the others.
The topic of bullying and abuse is definitely not a new phenomenon in YA, but Speak really brings it to a new level. The way the story is told, from the perspective of a sarcastic and tormented young teen, is stunning. The comparisons she makes, her way of seeing the world, her feelings, her thoughts, are so exagerated but, oddly, also very real. I'm in love with the narration in Speak - here's a random passage that I believe is an example of this:
"Homework is not an option. My bed is sending out serious nap rays. I can't help myself. The fluffy pillows and warm conforter are more powerful than I am. I have no choice but to snuggle under the covers."
Not only is the writting extremely delicious, but the characters are so well-developed in such a small book. I've read books four times this length and have not taken the characters seriously like I did in Speak. Melinda's problems, while not very relatable to me, are a central part of the book and have a huge impact on her as a person. This is totally cliché, but I felt her pain. The author makes it so real that you don't second-guess her issues. You just accept it, and are disgusted by her treatment.
The ending of the book, right down to the last sentence, is too amazing for words. But even before that is the incredible climax that nearly brought me to tears! Not because of sadness, but because of Melinda's bravery and the fears she was overcoming by finally speaking. Every single moment in this book is pure perfection.
Recommendation: Everyone - adults and teens - has to read Speak. You haven't experienced everything this genre has to offer if you haven't had the chance to pick up this wonderful story. Read it - now!