- Fizzy Thoughts: Speak

Speak

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Speak
Laurie Halse Anderson
May 2006
197 pages

Speak is one of those short novels that pack a powerful punch.

This was Halse Anderson’s first book, and it won the Printz Award – and for very good reason, too. Speak is the story of Melinda Sordino’s freshman year of high school. Because she dared to call the cops on a summer party, Melinda finds herself starting high school as a social outcast. Not only have her friends have forsaken her, but no one else will even acknowledge her. Additionally, her distracted parents are a bit oblivious to her needs. As the school year progresses, Melinda says less and less, starts failing her classes, and sinks into depression. What no one realizes is that she had a damn good reason for calling the cops at that party. Unfortunately, she never told anyone why for fear of reprisal…and because when you find yourself a pariah, it’s hard to find someone to confide in.

Towards the end of the school year, Melinda starts to find her voice again. Scared for both her friend and herself, Melinda fights back. And then speaks out. The book ends on a positive note and the reader is left feeling that Melinda will find her inner strength and the support she needs.

I find it ironic that this book is often challenged. Melinda’s story is all too real, and just because some people may be uncomfortable with the topics doesn’t mean they should be ignored or censored.

This is what the author has to say about it: "But censoring books that deal with difficult, adolescent issues does not protect anybody. Quite the opposite. It leaves kids in the darkness and makes them vulnerable. Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance. Our children cannot afford to have the truth of the world withheld from them.”

There are many reviews of this book around the blogosphere, but Lisa at Books on the Brain wrote one just last week…go check it out!

17 comment(s):

lisamm said...

Great review! I loved what the author had to say at the end. So true. Thanks again for passing this one on to me. I've given it to my friend, who is a middle school principal. She'd heard about it but hadn't read it yet and was really happy for the opportunity!

J.S. Peyton said...

I've heard a lot about this book, especially the controversy surrounding it. I totally agree with everything the author has to say about censorship. People don't give their children enough credit for being smarter than adults tend to think they are. Banning books with difficult subjects from children's reading lists only does them a terrible disservice.

Great review!

Ladytink_534 said...

I have really, really, really got to get around to reading this lol.

Serena said...

you have an award here: http://www.savvyverseandwit.com/2009/05/true-fairy-tale-award-more.html

Ti said...

What age group do you feel this one is geared towards? I ask because my son is loving The Outsiders (the copy I bought at FOB) and he asked me to find other books that deal with a more mature subject matter. I am thinking he is like me in that he likes a book that makes you think a bit but I don't want him reading stuff that is too far out there.

He is almost eleven but is very mature for his age.

Beth F said...

Wow! Sounds like a must-read. Why do so many YA novels feature oblivious or distant parents? Is that a reflection of real life?

bermudaonion said...

I bought this last week on Buy Indie Day and can't wait to read it.

Charley said...

I agree, this is a powerful book. I like what the author had to say about censorship. It's sad that the book is about the importance of speaking up, and yet so many people don't want its message to be heard.

Melissa said...

Glad you liked it. I agree: it's a powerful book, and one that should be read by as many people as possible. It's too bad that it's often banned.

raidergirl3 said...

I liked this last year too. Another book with a similar topic and theme is Just Listen by Sarah Dessen and was very well done as well.

Melody said...

I bought this book and Wintergirls recently... After hearing so many raves from you ladies I'm sure these books will not disappoint!

softdrink said...

Lisa - Yay...this is a great book to pass along!

JS - thank you. And yes, I agree about people not giving kids enough credit.

Tink - yes, you really, really, really do. :-D

Serena - woo-hoo! thanks!

Ti - I think so...it deals with rape, but you don't know that until the end. And while the narrator describes what happens, it's emotional rather than clinical. I think if your son is reading The Outsiders, then yes, it's a book he can handle. I think it would make for a good discussion with him, too.

Beth - I think it's more the narrators' perceptions of their parents...maybe a reflection of how kids feel so different from their parents?

Kathy - it's a quick read, too...so you can easily squeak it in. :-D

Charley and Melissa - I know! It boggles the mind.

raidergirl - it makes me wonder where all these good books were when we were teens...or was I just oblivious then?

Melody - Halse Anderson is definitely loved by book bloggers!

Chris said...

Great review Jill! I just loved this one...thought it was amazing! Have you read Wintergirls yet?? It's so good.

Nymeth said...

I LOVE that quote on censorship. I seriously have to read this soon!

Joanne said...

Awesome review! I have Speak sitting on my shelf waiting to be read and now I'm so looking forward to it.

The author quote you included is perfect! It really sums up my opinions of censorship, whether it be banning books, speech or media of any kind. It's all about sticking our heads in the sand about the things we're afraid of, ignorant about, won't admit to existing. And how that makes the world better is a concept I've never understood. Oh if only we could all live these perfect picket fence lives *rolls eyes* :P

Lisa said...

I loved speak, it spurred my collection of Laure Halse Anderson. I started Wintergirls today.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Speak was the first Anderson book that I read and it's been the best to go through all of her other titles. She really is the best!

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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