Thursday, May 1, 2008

Silence is Not Always Golden.....


Lately, I've seen the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (208 pgs, Puffin 2001) pop up all over the blogosphere. And with good reason. This is a book I chose to read for the Young Adult Reading 2008 Challenge.

"Older students are allowed to roam until the bell, but ninth graders are herded into the auditorium. We fall into class: Jocks, Country Clubbers, Idiot Savants, Cheerleaders, Human Waste, Eurotrash, Future Fascists of America, Big Hair Chix, the Marthas, Suffering Artists, Thespians, Goths, Shredders. I am clanless. I wasted the last weeks of August watching bad cartoons. I didn't go to the mall, the lake. or the pool, or answer the phone. I have entered high school with the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, the wrong attitude. And I don't have anyone to sit with.

I am Outcast.

For Melinda Sordino, high school is not going to be easy. Something happened over the summer that left her an outcast with not only her old friends, but most of the students at Merryweather High. Now this once happy, energetic, A-Student doesn't speak, is barely passing her classes, and has no friends at all. The only thing about high school that is tolerable is art class. Mr. Freeman, the art teacher, is the one person that seems to have any luck getting Melinda to open up. He's given her an assignment, and the entire year to finish. All she has to do is look inside herself, but that is almost as painful as being alone.

There's not an easy way to review this book without giving too much of the plot away. Speak, written mostly as Melinda's inner dialogue, is sharp, funny and yet, extremely painful. High school can be such a difficult time for some kids, and reading this book left me with a bad feeling right in the pit of my stomach. Anderson's writing is just so smooth, you can FEEL Melinda's suffering.

Honestly, this is a book that should be mandatory reading for High School students, to show them the affects of peer pressure and shunning. But that will never happen because someone would deem it too "inappropriate". Kids, on both sides of the coin, should feel what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes. If they did, they might not be so quick to judge anyone else. 4.5/5

16 comments:

Debi said...

Wonderful review, Stephanie! Certainly not the first I've read of this book...as you said it seems to be everywhere these days. But yours is the one that finally has me convinced that I've got to go get this book! Thanks!

Stephanie said...

Thanks Debi! It was a great book, but man. Just made me ache for this girl. I remember how hard high school was....trying to fit in and all. I'm so dreading it with my kids.

Amy said...

Great Review Stephanie. I have been hearing great things about this book. I hope to read it soon.

jenclair said...

You've hooked me on this one! Great review; it is going on my list.

Literary Feline said...

Terrific review, Stephanie. I have seen mention of this book by a couple of other bloggers as well recently and so was curious to read your thoughts on it as well. I don't often read YA fiction, but I may have to check this one out.

Lisa said...

I'd never heard of this one before. Thanks for the review. You're right about high school being a very difficult time for most kids. My youngest graduates this year, and it's really bittersweet. I hate to see him growing up, but at the same time, I can't really say I'm sad to see him leave high school. Sometimes, I think it's harder for the parents having to watch your kids go through hard times than it is for the kids themselves.

Rhinoa said...

I read Chris' review of this not long ago on Stuff as Dreams Are Made On too and this is sounding more and more like something I would enjoy reading. Thanks for the review.

Nymeth said...

After your review and Chris's, I'm convinced that I need to pick this one up!

Chris said...

Wasn't it great Steph? I'm glad that you liked it...I felt so bad for Melinda...couldn't agree with you more that this should be mandatory reading for high school students. But like you said...it never will be and that's ashame.

Iliana said...

Great review, Stephanie! I have seen this one popping up on other's blogs and I really want to read it. I'll be adding it to that long list of TBR books :)

Trish said...

I've also seen this one around a lot as well. I agree that highschool is a tough time--I would never go back! Maybe college times, though. ;) I think I'm going to pick this one up for my sister who is about to be a junior in HS.

Kim L said...

You made this book sound very intriguing. Although I love YA fiction, I find myself shying away from books specifically about high school. No clue why. But I might have to break that barrier and pick this one up!

Bookfool said...

I thought this was a terrific book and felt the same way . . . oh, how awful. I love it that there are books like Speak. I'd like to think they give a few young people comfort and make them feel less alone in not fitting in.

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Laurie Halse Anderson is pretty amazing. For a look at her lighter side, there's Prom and from a book from a young man's point of view, there's Twisted. Actually, a friend of mine and I have decided that the girl from Prom and the boy from Twisted should get together! We were thinking of writing to her and suggesting it. :)

Alison said...

i read Speak a few weeks ago and loved it. great review!

toops said...

I loved this book.
And at my school, it is mandatory.
Has been for a few years now.