Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Speak - Book Review

My cousin Katie is selling many of her books online to prepare for a move. I was perusing her selection (mostly young adult titles) and saw that she was selling her copy of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. It's been on my to-read list for some time now. I clicked the "buy" button and the book was in my mailbox in two days. Pretty dang awesome service for a good price.

I read the award winning, controversial novel over the weekend.

Melinda is a sarcastic, cynical teenager with plenty of attitude (know one?). While Melinda narrates the book and the reader is privy to all her thoughts, Melinda has stopped speaking to everyone else. After she made the phone call to the police that busted up a summer party, her friends have shunned her and everyone else in the high school picks on her or ignores her completely.

Melinda's self-involved parents, a teacher and the counselor make some minor attempts to reach her, but don't dig deep enough to find the cause of her sudden change. Her grades are slipping. She is skipping school. She is withdrawn and sullen and friendless.

This is a dark but witty novel with the from the view of the problem teenager. There is, of course, something more sinister and painful in Melinda's past. As she is able to face the truth about the night of the party, she is able to heal. Speak has some very powerful messages. The writing is pretty simple, really, but is consistent with the 14 year old narrator and also makes the book more accessible to it's younger audience.

While this novel is not for children, I think teenagers and parents should read this novel together and discuss it. The novel is full of difficult topics and themes but they are real and pertinent and can lead to a valuable conversation between parents and their teenagers.


Ammon and Jen said...

I love your book reviews! They give me new ideas on what to read and a heads up as to content. I adored "Major Pettigrew". Sometime we will have to discuss "Atlas Shrugged".

Kerri said...

Sounds good..

Momnerd said...

I liked the book...but I didn't love it. But it was worth reading once. :)

Laura said...

I have to agree with "Momnerd", that I liked the book...didn't love it. We read it for a bookclub book in MS, and I think that I was the only one who read it. Natosha had to read it for school, so we had some discussions about the topic. We have a copy of the book, if anyone wants to borrow it.