I first became acquainted with Speak via the 2004 movie starring Kristin Stewart (in her pre-Twilight fame), Elizabeth Perkins and Steve Zahn. All gave excellent performances in a wonderful film. I was fascinated by the portrayal of Melinda, a girl who couldn't find her voice or her place in the world after losing her friends when she called the cops at a party last year. As the story goes on, Melinda lives in mostly in her head, narrating and giving commentary that feels very real amidst a fake world. But there is something deeper going on with Melinda and the moment she is able to voice it, she finally finds her voice again.
This was a wonderful novel not only for Young Adults but for Adult readers as well. I found myself chuckling at Melinda's commentary and agreeing with her. There were a few quotes she mentioned that really stuck with me. Things such as:
"Sometimes I think high school is one long hazing activity: if you are tough enough to survive this, they'll let you become an adult. I hope it's worth it."
makes the narrative feel very fresh with a setting and atmospherethat folks of any age can relate to. Laurie Halse Anderson writes in a way that doesn't feel like an adult trying to be a teenager. I sympathized with Melinda and even though I knew what happened to her at the beginning, it was still grappling especially in the end when Melinda is confronted by her attacker.
I listened to this on audio format narrated by Mandy Siegfried who did an amazing job with the voices of the teenagers and the adults. Each character jumps off the page to color Melinda's world. Melinda has an inner strength that is always there despite what happened to her and it was a joy seeing her work toward finding her outer strength.
Speak is going on my keeper shelf. I highly recommend checking this out if you enjoy Young Adult fiction that really colors the life of high school, being an outcast and peer abuse.