Maureen's Reviews > Speak

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
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Oct 27, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: realistic-fiction

Since the beginning of her freshman year, Melinda has been speaking less and less, to her parents, teachers, and to the friends who have abandoned her because she called the police at a party during the preceding summer. The silence represents the emotional paralysis she is suffering because of an unspeakable trauma she endured at that infamous party.This is an honest and real depiction of teen-age suffering, not only the physical pain caused by the trauma of a sexual molestation, but the emotional pain, isolation, and depression experienced by a high school freshman who has been branded an outcast by her former friends. A triumphant ending gives the novel a satisfying conclusion, and will hopefully inform the behavior of teenagers whose misjudgement of their peers can cause enormous suffering.


The rich language and honest depiction of the heroine, Melinda, makes this a very powerful novel. I describe it as a "cautionary tale," one that should make its teeneage audience perhaps indulge in a bit of self examination of the way they treat others. Laurie Halse Anderson wrote a memorable first novel, and somehow, was able to weave a strand of self-deprecating humor on the part of Melinda, the main character, into the story of her mounting pain and anguish. The bitter dilemma which Melinda faced was totally believable, and I am confident that the heroine's voice will "speak" to thousands of teenage girls who have endured abuse, date rapes, or molestation, and have been too scared, embarassed,paralyzed, or powerless to seek justice.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 27, 2008 – Shelved
October 30, 2008 – Shelved as: realistic-fiction

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Lana (new)

Lana Hoffman This book sounds like a good one to share with students when trying to start a conversation about abuse and the way we treat others. You called it a cautionary tale for a teenage audience. This definetly sounds like a worthwhile book for every teenager to read and reflect upon. I am looking forward to reading this book, especially the truimphant ending you mentioned in your review.


message 2: by Andrea (last edited Oct 30, 2008 05:07AM) (new)

Andrea After seeing Laurie Halse Anderson speak (no pun intended) last Sunday, I am interested in reading this book too. Laurie said of all of her books this is the most autobiographical in terms of the depression the character goes through. It does sound like a book that would be a "safe" way to discuss very serious issues with teenagers. Another story that deals with a teenager's silence as a way of coping with trauma is "Silent to the Bone," by E.L. Konigsburg. In this story a true friend finds a way to communicate through the silence and helps to reveal its cause.


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