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Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


by Laurie Halse Anderson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9,050540331 (4.13)1 / 302

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Showing 1-5 of 534 (next | show all)
High school is a three- or four-year stint most of us would pay NOT to have to repeat, for one reason or another: ostracism, teasing, manipulation, drama, and more roam the halls in every shape, form, and degree.

Melinda Sordino knows about ostracism, teasing, and drama. From her first day at high school, she's an outcast, practically a pariah, because she made a fateful phone call that broke up an end-of-summer party and resulted in the arrival of the police.

Now, no one will speak to her, and even the new girl, from out of state, who is at first friendly, eventually dumps her for more popular company. There isn't room in a single clique --- or clan, to use Melinda's term --- for her to belong. No space on the social hierarchy, determined by popularity, appearance, and whether or not you were loyal enough to your friends not to blow the whistle on them at a party.

The thing is, Melinda didn't call the police because of the party. She called for another reason, and it's a secret that haunts her, but she can't bring herself to talk about it in the face of so much hatred and anger. The only place she feels safe is in art class, where she struggles with a year-long project that turns out to be the key to unlocking her silence.

Author Laurie Halse Anderson writes an evocative, compelling, character-driven novel with SPEAK. Protagonist Melinda narrates the novel in bitterly ironical vignettes, uncovering one hypocrisy after another about high school in as sarcastic, cynical, and cutting a voice as only a teenager can produce.

From the very first paragraph --- "It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache" --- the immediacy of the first-person, present-tense point of view yanked me into the story and into Melinda's personal space, where, after just that first page, I was eager and more than willing to remain until the very last page.

Melinda is an eminently sympathetic character, three-dimensional, a fascinating mass of juxtapositions --- attitudinal teenager plus vulnerable artist --- that make her a pleasure to cheer for and side with throughout her story.

Awarded the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature by the American Library Association, Laurie Halse Anderson's YA novel SPEAK is one every teenager will empathize with, and one that every adult will appreciate.

# # #

Title: SPEAK
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
ISBN: 978-0-374-37152-4
Purchase here: http://amzn.to/1nOvkkd

Disclaimer: The opinions I have expressed are my own. ( )
1 vote Eleanore_Trupkiewicz | Oct 30, 2014 |
I first read this book at the age of perhaps 11 or 12, and really didn't understand what all the fuss was about. Why? Well, I'd only been at secondary school for about ten minutes, had no knowledge of sexual violence, and thus didn't really appreciate the level of 'reading between the lines' that is required in order to catapult this book up to greatness.

This time around I absolutely loved it! On the surface it is the story of Melinda Sordino, a thirteen year-old girl starting high school for the first time. Unfortunately, Melinda has recently alienated her entire group of best friends - amongst others - by calling the police from a party over the summer. What her ex-friends don't know is why she called the police: she was raped at the party by the hottest boy in school. Which brings us to what's going on under the surface - because this isn't just some flighty Mean Girls novel about an unpopular girl in high school. It's really about a young woman slowly healing after a terrible experience, finding her voice, discovering her own strength, and finally being able to speak out about what happened to her. And what a beautifully evoked journey it is...

Not only is the writing deceptively simple and frequently gorgeous, but what really surprised me was how much humour runs through this book! I didn't remember that at all from my first reading, so I was delighted to discover that Anderson has a marvellous knack of combining sparkling wit with troubling themes to offer a reading experience that has it all - it's funny but truthful, sarcastic but airy, tongue-in-cheek but very moving.

One thing I absolutely loved was the idea of art as therapy. Early in the book, Melinda's unconventional and completely awesome art teacher allocates each student an object that will form the basis of their work that year, across as many media and styles as they care to try. Melinda's object is 'tree'. Not only does this offer a metaphor for Melinda's personal growth, strength and return to life as the novel goes on, but her artistic efforts, and Mr Freeman's enthusiastic mentoring, become the means for her to learn self-expression and explore her feelings in new ways. She keeps her work in a deserted janitor's closet (like a mini staffroom), which she cleans, personalises and adapts into her own little sanctuary.

I think these elements of the novel particularly struck a chord with me because I, albeit for different reasons, found similar refuge within my school environment as a teenager. Like Mr Freeman's art room, ours was light, bustling, relaxed, and always open to students during breaks and lunchtimes. I'd tag along with friends who were taking art and spend time doing homework, eating lunch, singing along to the radio, and ogling my crush, a shy boy from the year above who was also a proficient artist and could usually be found hiding away in the art room with his best friend. My 'janitor's closet' was an upstairs classroom, my Mr Freeman a history teacher who would quietly unlock the door for me and unceremoniously throw out any rowdier groups who dared to invade by pretending I was in detention! Like Melinda, I found that having somewhere peaceful to go made school more bearable.

In conclusion, this is a truly fantastic novel. Despite being published fifteen years ago (so around the time I first read it, rather scarily), it still has a wonderful blend of humour and truth, a school setting that is still relatable now, and a strong and inspiring message about sexual violence, self-expression, and having the confidence to speak UP and speak OUT against people who have hurt us and experiences no one should have to endure alone. This is definitely a story that will stick with me this time around - I may even buy my own copy to keep - and I can't wait to read Wintergirls, which is already installed on my TBR shelves! ( )
  elliepotten | Oct 24, 2014 |
Good and bad. I don't know how to rate this. Amongst my GR friends this is Marmite -love it or hate, there is no in-between. I don't adore it but I don't loathe it either.

To begin with, I was bored to tears by the writing, of Melinda's life and Outcast status so I skimmed but I was curious as to how everything was going to play out with IT. IT is Andy Evans, Andy Beast, Andy the rapist.

Then little things got my attention: this girl's sense of humour (sarcastic, pessimistic and cynical), skipping school, blind teachers -this is going to sound contrived but there were some things about her and her life that reminded me of my high school self.

[b:Speak|954136|Speak|Laurie Halse Anderson|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51xgjCIctiL._SL75_.jpg|118521] isn't a normal everyday book, it's literature -there to be studied, to interpret the symbolism, to see the reflections of this and that and derive the lessons learned by reading it. In essence, it's a school book. And who liked school? Not me...but then my favourite subject was English Lit, I never missed a class so that probably makes me a freak for liking it on that level.

For example, Melinda fainting at the sight of the dead frog's hands and feet being splayed and pinned symbolised Melinda's rape, overwhelming her with the memory of that night.

Lesson: It's better out than in. Don't let it fester. Speak up. Stand up for yourself. You can survive.

I didn't always like the delivery of this message. Why is it always the art or English teacher making that connection with the student in need? Maybe it's got something to do with the expression of self. Still, it would've been different if it had been any other teacher, or person in general. However, I did like the script-like dialogue fashion Melinda's silence was displayed:

[Character]: [Asks question]
[Character]: [Makes comment]

Each character interprets her silence differently, usually in a way that benefits them and harms her.

David and Ivy were interesting supporting characters and potential BFFs for Melinda. David in particular was quite fascinating. I wish we'd seen more of them, and I'll grudgingly admit Mr. Freeman, the art teacher did good too. He wasn't too hard or too soft, or too creepy in his efforts to get Melinda to open up and express herself and her emotions in art and life.

The ending wasn't quite enough for me. After the very long build up, we see the turning point but not the consequences. I needed to witness everyone's reactions, whether positive ("I'm so sorry for how I've treated you") or negative ("You lying attention-seeking whore!"). What happened to Andy the rapist? Where does Melinda go from here?

After writing this, I think I know my rating: 2.5 stars. Melinda and her school life were well developed, perhaps a little too developed possibly overlooking other angles and characters in the process. ( )
  Cynical_Ames | Sep 23, 2014 |
Fantastic. Well written. Presents a challenging topic with class and in a way that is not overbearing or too graphic. A must read for teens. ( )
  KatieEmilySmith | Sep 23, 2014 |
I know. A ton of people liked this book. I'm giving this crap a one star though.

I never did connect with this books main character. I finally was to the point where I didn't give a shit anymore when the big reveal came about why she was having so many problems. I felt somewhat sorry for her then but it still just didn't pull through enough for me.
( )
  bookqueenshelby | Sep 9, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 534 (next | show all)
The plot is gripping and the characters are powerfully drawn, but it is its raw and unvarnished look at the dynamics of the high school experience that makes this a novel that will be hard for readers to forget.
added by khuggard | editKirkus Reviews
In her YA fiction debut, Anderson perfectly captures the harsh conformity of high-school cliques and one teen's struggle to find acceptance from her peers. Melinda's sarcastic wit, honesty, and courage make her a memorable character whose ultimate triumph will inspire and empower readers.
added by khuggard | editBooklist, Debbie Carton
Anderson expresses the emotions and the struggles of teenagers perfectly. Melinda's pain is palpable, and readers will totally empathize with her. This is a compelling book, with sharp, crisp writing that draws readers in, engulfing them in the story.
added by khuggard | editSchool Library Journal, Dina Sherman
But the book's overall gritty realism and Melinda's hard-won metamorphosis will leave readers touched and inspired.
added by khuggard | editPublishers Weekly
Laurie Halse Anderson's first novel is a stunning and sympathetic tribute to the teenage outcast. The triumphant ending, in which Melinda finds her voice, is cause for cheering (while many readers might also shed a tear or two).
added by khuggard | editAmazon.com, Jennifer Hubert

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Laurie Halse Andersonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Correa, María MercedesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Sandy Bernstein, who helped me find my voice, and to my husband Greg, who listens
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It is my first morning of high school.
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Book description
This book describes the struggle of a teenage girl to find her voice. You watch the character fall into depression, go mute, drop tremendously in school, and isolate herself from society. As if feeling unsafe in the world isn't enough, Melinda doesn't even feel safe in her own mind. And why? Maybe because all of her once best friends refuse to talk to her for busting an end of the summer party. Or perhaps it has something to do with the fact that her parents couldn't take less of an interest in her, and refuse to communicate as they get sucked into their workaholic lives. Deep down, Melinda Sordino knows the reason that her life has turned into a living hell. The only way to escape this whirlwind of torture is to speak, but that's not as easy as it may seem.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142407321, Paperback)

Since the beginning of the school year, high school freshman Melinda has found that it's been getting harder and harder for her to speak out loud: "My throat is always sore, my lips raw.... Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze.... It's like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis." What could have caused Melinda to suddenly fall mute? Could it be due to the fact that no one at school is speaking to her because she called the cops and got everyone busted at the seniors' big end-of-summer party? Or maybe it's because her parents' only form of communication is Post-It notes written on their way out the door to their nine-to-whenever jobs. While Melinda is bothered by these things, deep down she knows the real reason why she's been struck mute...

Laurie Halse Anderson's first novel is a stunning and sympathetic tribute to the teenage outcast. The triumphant ending, in which Melinda finds her voice, is cause for cheering (while many readers might also shed a tear or two). After reading Speak, it will be hard for any teen to look at the class scapegoat again without a measure of compassion and understanding for that person--who may be screaming beneath the silence. (Ages 13 and older) --Jennifer Hubert

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:34 -0400)

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A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect on Melinda's freshman year in high school.

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