Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Published: 1999
Pages: 198
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!

12 comments:

Marce said...

This one is on my list and I am starting to take YA off my list but I will definitely keep this on it :-)

Cat said...

I don't read much YA but I read another glowing review of this one and noted it down. Sounds like it is definitely worth reading.

Nice review - thanks :-)

Jeanne C. said...

Hi Emidy,
I really liked this book as well. Another FAB book by this author is Wintergirls. One of my favorites this year!

Adriana said...

I saw the movie to this book. The acting was pretty average, but I really enjoyed the story it told. I'm sure the book is so much better though. Laurie Halse Anderson seems like a great writer who tells realistic and relatable stories. I'll have to read one of her books sometime.

Sara said...

Yay I'm so glad you liked it! I loved this one too. I like how you described the writing as delicious hehe. I just found out recently that there was a movie for this, I definitely want to watch it. Thanks for the awesome review Emidy! :D

Kathy said...

I've seen the movie (and was very impressed by it!) but hadn't planned to read the book, even though I've seen a couple of other bloggers who totally agree with you on how great this book is . . . but you have pushed me over the edge. I'm adding it to my TBR.

Aths said...

I'm so glad you loved this book. I LOVED it too!

Mrs. DeRaps said...

I teach this book. It's one of my favorites because we go into issues of bullying and rape and finding your voice in a lot of depth. I take my time when teaching this novel, because it's so real. I think it's a valuable read for EVERYONE, like you suggested in your post. Thanks for spreading the word.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Awesome review :)

Emidy said...

Marce - Don't take it off whatever you do!

Cat - It's an amazing book! I'm not surprised at all the positive reviews out there.

Jeanne - Oh, I'll have to read that one, too. Thanks!

Adriana - I haven't seen the movie but usually the book versions are way better. I love the message, too!

Sara - Haha yes, it is delicious! Now I'm curious about the movie.

Kathy - Good, I'm glad! You've got to read it.

Aths - Oh, awesome!

Mrs. DeRaps - Wow, what a great book to teach! I'm sure your students love it.

Juju - Why thank you. :)

Medeia Sharif said...

This is one of my favorite YA books. To me, it epitomizes the best in YA.

Stephanie said...

I absolute adore this author. Wintergirls is one of the best I've read this year. I haven't yet read Speak, although I did see the film version of the book. Thanks for a great review.