Speak

Title: Speak
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Square Fish
ISBN: 978-0-374-37152-4
Rating: 2/5 Stars

Awards:

SCASL Book Award (South Carolina)
( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2002 )
Sequoyah Book Award
( WON AWARD in 2002 )
Volunteer State Book Award
( WON AWARD in 2002 )
Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award
( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2002 )
Evergreen Young Adult Book Award
( WON AWARD in 2002 )
Garden State Teen Book Award
( WON AWARD in 2002 )
Iowa Teen Award
( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2002 )
California Young Reader Medal
( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2003 )
Nevada Young Reader’s Award
( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2003 )
Virginia Reader’s Choice Awards
( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2002 )
Black-Eyed Susan Book Award
( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2003 )
ABC Children’s Booksellers Choices Awards
( WON AWARD in 2000 )
Carolyn W. Field Award (Pennsylvania Library Association)
( WON AWARD in 2000 )
Grand Canyon Reader Award
( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2004 )
Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award
( NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD in 2004 )

Review:

Different from her other historical fiction works, Anderson dives into the painful world of a high school girl in her novel Speak.  Staying silent seems to be the coping mechanism of choice for the main character in this novel.  Melinda, a freshman high school student, comes to life as Anderson describes in painful detail the daily comings and goings of a girl, struggling with life. Although painful to read at times, Anderson does a wonderful job endearing the reader to her character, generating sympathy when she is shunned from every high school clique and creating lonliness that was practically palpable as Melinda slipped deeper and deeper into her silent world.  Geared toward an older audience, Speak puts in words the emotions of a young girl who has endured a great tragedy.

 

Review Excerpt:

In a stunning first novel, Anderson uses keen observations and vivid imagery to pull readers into the head of an isolated teenager. Divided into the four marking periods of an academic year, the novel, narrated by Melinda Sordino, begins on her first day as a high school freshman. No one will sit with Melinda on the bus. At school, students call her names and harass her; her best friends from junior high scatter to different cliques and abandon her. Yet Anderson infuses the narrative with a wit that sustains the heroine through her pain and holds readers’ empathy. A girl at a school pep rally offers an explanation of the heroine’s pariah status when she confronts Melinda about calling the police at a summer party, resulting in several arrests. But readers do not learn why Melinda made the call until much later: a popular senior raped her that night and, because of her trauma, she barely speaks at all. Only through her work in art class, and with the support of a compassionate teacher there, does she begin to reach out to others and eventually find her voice. Through the first-person narration, the author makes Melinda’s pain palpable: “I stand in the center aisle of the auditorium, a wounded zebra in a National Geographic special.” Though the symbolism is sometimes heavy-handed, it is effective. The ending, in which her attacker comes after her once more, is the only part of the plot that feels forced. But the book’s overall gritty realism and Melinda’s hard-won metamorphosis will leave readers touched and inspired.    -Publisher’s Weekly

Connections:

This book should be read with adult supervision.  The messages in this book make it the perfect choice for a high school book club.

Resources:

2014. “Speak.” Books In Print. Ebsco.

Amazon. 2014. “Speak.” http://www.amazon.com/Speak-Laurie-Halse-Anderson/dp/0312674392

Anderson, Laurie Halse. 1999. Speak. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

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