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Speak of Me as I Am

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  386 ratings  ·  105 reviews
A moving story of grief, honesty, and the healing power of art—the ties that bind us together, even when those we love are gone.

Melanie and Damon are both living in the shadow of loss. For Melanie, it's the loss of her larger-than-life artist mother, taken by cancer well before her time. For Damon, it’s the loss of his best friend, Carlos, who took his own life.

As they str
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Philomel Books
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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  386 ratings  ·  105 reviews

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TRIGGER WARNINGS: homophobia (some strong offensive and gross language and "you can be cured" shit) and suicide.

this was a really good story about grief and losing people you love and care about. Melanie is grieving over her mom, who died from cancer and Damon is grieving the loss of his best friend, Carlos, who commit suicide. Damon takes Carlos' camera to a park to try and understand him better and sees a girl (Melanie) crying. he snaps her picture and after an awkward meeting, scurries out of
Cale Dietrich
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: swanky-17s
This book is BEAUTIFUL.

It’s also incredibly powerful, and moving, and stars a trio of characters that are so instantly lovable that I was hooked instantly. The characters in this are so great, and so effortless, that even though I’ve finished the book I find myself thinking about them all the time. Also, I have gone back a few times to read quotes, which is usually a sign that I LOVE a book.

At its core, this is a book about grief, and the ways that people live with it. Both POV characters (whi
Anna Priemaza
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I want to swim in the depths of this book. I want to wrap its words around me like a blanket and hold them tight. Because SPEAK OF ME AS I AM is overflowing with some of the most gorgeous writing I've read. Reading it, I felt like I was reading a poem written on a tombstone under a tree bursting with pink apple blossoms.

It's not flowery or inaccessible, though. Sonia's words are jam-packed with beautiful emotion, but they're still completely down to earth. Her characters speak beautifully, but a
Emily Murphy
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
SPEAK OF ME AS I AM is a moving, meaningful, beautiful book. It pulses with heart, with grief, with the messiness of healing in the wake of loss. You can tell, even before you reach the author note at the end, that this book has deep roots, that the words on the page are personal and weighted, in a way that makes this story so intimate and so beautiful. The writing sings in its descriptions and in its realistic dialogue. I loved lines like this one: "If there was one thing my mother taught me an ...more
Olivia Chanel's Galaxy of Books
Thank you, Philomel Books and NetGalley, for my advanced review copy of Speak of Me as I Am!

Be aware that Speak of Me as I Am deals with death, cancer, suicide and has some offensive language. All of this is discussed down below in my review. There will be spoilers in this review so consider yourself warned.

Speak of Me as I Am is a story about two teenagers, Melanie and Damon, who have both dealt with an immense loss but in different ways. The story made me cry and there were several scenes I en
McCall Hoyle
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Thank you, Sonia Belasco, for the opportunity to read an advance reader copy of SPEAK OF ME AS I AM. I absolutely fell in love with your voice and with Damon and Melanie. And Tristan! Teenagers (and adults) who want a story and characters they can emotionally connect with will love this tender and gritty realistic read. Kudos!
Jeff Giles
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a gorgeous book, written by a deeply talented writer and storyteller who embraces all sorts of people and asks only that we embrace each other. As other reviewers have said, the book is "about" grief, but if that sounds upsetting keep in mind that grief is made out of love and memory. Melanie and Damon, who cross paths after they've each lost a loved one, are moving, fully real characters. (And their pushy mutual friend, Tristan, is so funny and endearing that he threatens to steal the s ...more
Oct 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don't have words enough to describe how beautiful and touching and important this book is. It's a book about grief and living beyond loss and learning to let others really see you. So much truth in these pages. So well done, such gorgeous, vivid, emotion-filled writing.
Hazel (Stay Bookish)
Ash Rocketship
Oct 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Two warnings about this review: 1. it's based on an advance uncorrected galley I received from the author and 2. I can't really divorce this beautiful book from the beautiful person that made it. Luckily, it's so good, I don't need to.

This is a lovely, smart, moving story with teenagers who sound and feel like teenagers who have teenager-y experiences while processing acute, fresh grief without removing themselves from the world around them. The writing is lyrical without ever being excessive an
Carlie Sorosiak
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Speak of Me as I Am is such a gorgeous, important book. It portrays the grieving process with such profound clarity and realness, and I would just like to live in this beautiful writing. This is a rare book: one that is just as profound as it is accessible, and it never feels overwrought. It feels like a poem that you can float in.

I love these characters. I love how unflinchingly human they are and the way they see the world. I have no doubt that readers will deeply connect with them and care a
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Marked as could-not-finish at page @ 67 pages.

An author I saw at a panel said that you shouldn't write YA if you don't understand young adults, and I'm not sure this author does. Her voices felt all wrong: the teen characters scoffed at things teens love like an adult would. Almost every paragraph contained a long, poetic simile and sometimes it wasn't even the quantity of similes that bothered me but the fact that the repetition of them disrupted any sort of flow there was as my brain reset to
Natalka Burian
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It captured that thing about first grief--that experience of a profound, first grief at a young age--that feeling that can knock a body down, so perfectly. I loved that this story explored the complexity of loss, but also the astrophysics-difficulty of enduring it and living past it. So, so beautifully written, too.
Bree Barton
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This isn't just a book—this is a lifeline. It is a life raft for people who are drowning. It is also a gorgeous piece of prose, an absolutely bewitching story about two characters ravaged by loss and their slow and painful journey toward one another. But make no mistake: this book is going to save lives.

SPEAK OF ME AS I AM is the story of Melanie and Damon, both of whom are living with excruciating loss. In alternating narratives, Sonia paints an exquisite picture of two lives in turmoil; these
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Confession: I am a sucker for great sentences, so this book had me SOLD from page 1. The writing is simply stunning. And not just in a superficial way. There are lines that eviscerate emotionally and others that hit on truths (about grief, love, and friendship) in such a fresh way that I found myself pausing and reflecting often. Brief pauses, though, because the story was too compelling to slow down for long. Damon and Melanie had me by the heartstrings, flipping pages to find out if they'd be ...more
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 17s
Damon and Melanie are teens whose young lives have been riddled with grief -- Melanie lost her mother to cancer, and Damon, his best friend to suicide. When they find each other, it's the beginning of a path to -- if not actual 'healing' -- you don't "heal" from grief -- to understanding. To learning how to ride it out, each in their own way, supporting each other and drawing strength from their growing bond.

I thought the characters were beautifully drawn. The dialogue was natural and lovely, an
Amy Giles
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The path to healing is steeped in pain, but Melanie and Damon find each other in their time of need, both of them still reeling from devastating loss. I loved Melanie’s complicated love for the parent she lost, by a daughter who often felt eclipsed by her mother’s larger than life presence. Damon’s struggle to come to terms with his best friend’s suicide is palpable on every page. You know there’s more to the story; you just don’t know what until the end. Gorgeous writing, Shakespeare, and roman ...more
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Anger, grief, regret, and love is portrayed into the book, "Speak Of Me As I Am' by Sonia Belasco. As teens Melonie and Damon are finding their way in the world, they experience the loss of a loved one. As regret and grief sink in they find comfort and love in each other. Each with their own set of talents find their way into the school's play of Othello, in hopes of a diversion. As challenges come, they fight together and grow an inseparable bond.

I absolutely loved this book, and the way that S
May 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
"But photographs aren't all we leave behind. Not photographs, not letters, not drawings or paintings, not houses or cars or money or clothes.
People are what we leave behind."

Trigger warning: Commit suicide

The writing didn't get me (it was.. dull and a bit cringy to me) but the storyline did. The twist was predictable but still so damn heart-breaking..
Jill Cd
I hover between a 3.5 and 4 rating. This book deals with the tough issues of grief and loss in two separate families with teens as the main characters. It peels back the layers of emotions and you feel “with” the protagonists . There is A LOT of profanity so I would definitely gear this to High School. A solid book with a good message.
Annie (Diverse Reads)
Liv @ Glaxay of Book's review discusses the uses of homophobic and ableist language throughout this book, as well as food analogues to describe skin colour. It also utilises the 'bury your gays' trope.

Trigger warning for suicide.
Tori Zeigler
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
“Speak of me as I am” is a very moving book. It doesn’t hold back on the emotions and grieving process of losing a loved one. It was a pretty quick read in my opinion since it’s not very long however, sometimes you just have to put it down because the sentence structure and emotions that the characters show can be hard to understand. I gave the book a three not because I didn’t like it but because since it is such an emotional book it can be hard on others.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
That was moving and beautiful.
I think this brings up important topics, but I don't know, I wasn't really feeling the characters or the story? This is probably more of a me thing.
Jean Baxter
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Endearing characters in a story about loss and healing. It took me a while into the book to become truly invested, but glad I stuck it out.
Kama Post
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had the privilege of reading the Advanced Reader Copy of this book. It was high on my list because of the theme: grief. Both Melanie and Damon have recently lost a loved one, so their lives are weighed down by the grieving process. Throughout the novel, this grief guides their thoughts and decisions. When they meet each other and start to establish a relationship, they find their common ground both brings them closer and pushes them apart. Based on the Author's Note, Belasco is intimately fami ...more
Joanne O'Sullivan
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book hit especially close to my heart. Melanie and Damon are two teens who suffered a loss- Melanie's mother died of cancer and Damon's friend Carlos killed himself. The two cross paths and end up attending the same DC school together, working on a production of Othello, and falling for each other.

Sonia Belasco's portrayal on grief, especially during those turbulent teen years, is so spot on-I *was* Melanie in high school; exactly. And I knew several Damons too. There is nothing artificial
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this book had really beautiful prose. it was just the right amount of descriptive, I think, enough for it to be slow but not so much that it was heavy. the POV switching really worked for me as well. the sections with melanie and damon are long enough that you can really sink in to the character, almost forget that there's another point of view coming.

books that are light on plot can be hit or miss, but this was definitely a hit. the grieving process for both damon and melanie didn't feel rushed
McKelle George
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-debuts
Beautiful, from start to finish. A touching exploration of grief, from two people who are dealing with it in different ways. I really loved that while the romance is there--and lovely--it takes a backseat to both Melanie and Damon's journeys to grow and recover from the losses they've suffered. Also Shakespeare! Just a me thing, but I so enjoyed Belasco's weaving in of Othello into the narrative (and where the book got its title).
Gwen Cole
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-debuts
SPEAK OF ME AS I AM is a book loaded with characters that seemed to be standing right in front of me as I read. I could see their faces and body language and feel what they were feeling. Which was a lot of feelings...this book dives deep into the lives of two people who are both dealing with grieve in different ways. Beautifully written, wonderful characters, and pages you can't stop turning. This book will speak to so many people and I can't wait for it to be out in the world.
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SONIA BELASCO has spent much of her professional life working with teenagers as a mentor, tutor and therapist, and she is often inspired by their passion, creativity and strength. She will watch almost any TV show about high school and has seen every contemporary movie that involves dance battles or superheroes. She is a native of Washington, D.C. and currently lives in Philadelphia, PA, where she ...more
“Volleyball was clearly a sport invented by the devil," I tell Tristan. "Satan plays volleyball. Satan loves volleyball. Satan holds volleyball championships in hell, possibly everyday.” 0 likes
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