Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

It is unlike me to give so much information away about a book; but because the book was published 10 years ago and because I felt the need to show some of the information on this post....please excusez-moi it could be a spoiler.  

Published by Penguin Group, Copyright 1999, my paperback is the Platinum Edition published 2006,
197 pages
Young Adult Fiction for 10 and up

Amazon link for book:
Paperback $8.00

Borders link for book:
Paperback $10.00

Link for the book @ publisher:,,9780142407325,00.html?Speak_Laurie_Halse_Anderson
Paperback $10.00

For another review of Speak, plus commentary on book banning:

An article on banning of Speak:

Authors link:

Banned Book Week:

This is banned book week--September 25 through October 2. I have never participated in this; but after reading Becky's review on Operation Actually Read Bible---I decided to read Speak and see for myself what the "chatter" is all about.
I read Speak in 1 day. It was immediate that I identified with the main character Melinda--not in every way; but in many of her angst feelings of being a teenager and a freshman in high school. Almost all of the trauma that I endured from my peers was in middle school--specifically 7th grade. Many of the girls I went to school with were devilish in their needling, badgering, abusive behavior. Although it was a long time ago, I still have scars. Whenever peer pressure and especially abuse happens we tend to feel as if we are the "only one". We isolate ourselves and don't talk about it. In the abuse in my own home growing up, I didn't talk about it, for one---I did not think that anyone would believe me; but shame has a lot to do with silence as well.
Silence... but inside you are screaming. This is how Melinda felt, silent; yet unable to open her raw and burning throat that wanted to express what had happened.
In my parents generation people did not talk about certain things: incest, abuse, alcoholism, divorce, rape, a child born out of wedlock, prison, mental illness, any kind of handicap. Adults may have whispered about such things, gossiped even; but they were never discussed in an open mature manner. Not talking about it brings even more shame, false guilt, criticism, judgment. Not talking about it can cause depression and even suicide.
I am appalled that this book would be banned; I feel it should be (if not required reading, then encouraged)  at least by high school----then it should be discussed. I understand what these people are thinking in wanting to ban the book--that the book may promote abuse, or foul language, or they feel the book divulges too much information. I feel strongly that the book could help those that are going through abuse, this book could open a door for someone that desperately needs to speak and be heard and the courage to come forth.
I read an article recently (wish I remembered where) that many young men do not understand what rape really is. They do not understand the violence that rape is, nor the lasting affects of it. Another words many young men are hazy on what the definition of rape is.
Some statistics on rape:
73% of women know their rapist
The United States has more rapes than any other country
Only 37% are reported--another statistic gave me 16%
There is a woman raped every 1.3 minutes
1 in 4 college women are raped
1 in 12 men have raped and 84% of them did not believe that what they did was rape

And the statistics above are not of all of the children that have been sexually abused.

The book begins on the first day of Melinda's freshman year of high school. The book is entirely of her voice, what she hears, what she sees, what she experiences. She is the epitome of an isolated individual amongst a sea of people. It is immediate when beginning this book that something horrible has happened to her.
While I was reading Speak I felt as if I was perched on the shoulder of Melinda--viewing all that she saw, hearing all that she heard---yet as the story unfolded I became even more involved.
It is a prolific writer that can transport the reader not only into the story, but deeper still into the character.
Laurie Halse Anderson has written a story that will always remain with me, it is haunting---it makes me remember, and maybe make peace with those ghosts from my own past.

This book was purchased by me @ Border's for reading/reviewing. 

Blissful Reading!


Italia said...

This book was unbelievably emotional. Rape and sexual assault are very serious and devastating crimes, and ones that a lot of people keep inside and never tell a soul about. It is hard to know what someone who has been through rape and sexual assault thinks and feels if not experienced personally. Being able to peek into Melinda's head, to see and live the processes of depression and isolation she feels throughout, is very emotional. Speak is not a book one should read if they want light reading. Melinda's reactions to the boy who raped her when she meets him in school are particularly hard to read--- you can almost feel the sickness and fear coming off of her in waves.

Loraine said...

You have a nice review! Here's mine: Have a nice day!