Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

30 Sep

Publisher: Penguin Canada
Release year: 1999
Genre: YA contemporary
One sentence summary: Silence doesn’t always speak louder than words.
Rating:5 out of 5
Purchased after some douche decided it should be banned

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.

From Penguin Canada website.

*There are some slight spoilers in this review*

So a week or so ago some twit decided that Laurie Halse Anderson’s book Speak should be banned from schools. Why? He said that it contained soft porn. The book – SPOILER – is about a teen dealing with rape. The so-called soft porn is the rape scene. Yes, you read that right. I was enraged at this and immediately went out to buy Speak, since I hadn’t read it before.  After reading it I was even more pissed off at this jerk.

Speak is a beautiful and very, very important book for teens. If I had the money I would make sure that every girl entering high school had a copy. Unfortunately I think a lot of girls will be able to identify with Melinda and what she goes through.

Anderson’s writing is both sparse and poetic at the same time. From the opening line you get a feel for Melinda and the strength and courage she must have to face school every single day knowing she’s mostly likely going to be harassed and ridiculed. Starting high school is tricky enough but also having to deal with both people you know and strangers hating you without understanding why you did what you did? I can’t even imagine.

This was another quick read for me. Once I started Speak I couldn’t seem to put the book down. As I read further and witnessed Melinda sinking more and more into silence, my heart kept breaking. While this is a dark book, it isn’t bleak: I saw hope on every single page, especially towards the end.

I have to say I loved her art teacher, Mr. Freeman. He knew something was going on with Melinda, and instead of simply writing it off as teen angst like her parents do (don’t even get me started on them) he tries to help her open up about what’s going on through her art.

Okay, this so called soft porn scene. Here’s the thing. I got to the end of the book and had no idea what scene he was yammering on about. I actually had to ask some others who had read the book. Once I realized which scene he was talking about, I got even more pissed off.

I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to not only write a rape scene, but to do it so that it doesn’t seem gratuitous or too violent for the readers. The scene this twit zeroed in on is short, to the point and unbelievably well written. The actual act of the rape isn’t even described in any kind of detail. This guy is a loon and needs to have his head examined. Or lay off the hooch because he is way off base.


5 Responses to “Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson”

  1. amymckie September 30, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    Heheh hear hear!

  2. Allison September 30, 2010 at 9:41 am #

    I agree! I still haven’t read the book but its on my list. The guy is an idiot!

  3. Cleverlyinked September 30, 2010 at 10:14 am #

    It’s awesome to see how much support these banned books get!

  4. steph September 30, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    Whoops, can’t read this yet, I’m not finished the book and don’t want to spoil it! 🙂

  5. steph October 1, 2010 at 8:18 am #

    Finished the book last night, and, yeah, me too; it was hardly touched on, almost more suggested, few details (I imagine that might have been unrealistic anyway coming from a girl so traumatized she could hardly speak)—but we got the point. The scene in the closet is more intense and still I didn’t find myself thinking there was anyone who shouldn’t read it. Perhaps it’s been too long since I was in high school and I’m reading this through an adult’s eyes now, but I’m thinking there is NO WAY any of us were not of an age to be able to read this let alone experience it.

    My own review will come hopefully today after work.

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