Aug 172011

Wow! A definite must read for anyone who has suffered or know anyone who has suffered, especially with a complicated childhood. And, truthfully, who hasn’t gone through a rough patch while they were a teenager?

Speak takes us on a journey of a typical teenager as she deals with her first day of high school after a traumatic summer. Instead of joining her friends from middle school, Melinda isolates herself and speaks minimal amounts, afraid of what might come out and how people will deal with it. This novel, Laurie Halse Anderson’s first, describes the frustration, humiliation and disgrace a person so young must feel after going through so much. Some turn to suicide, unfortunately, Melinda gives hope and an alternative healing process.

Melinda is ostracized by her friends for calling 911 during a party they felt privileged to attend as it involved underage drinking. When everyone scattered from the house, Melinda went with them. Unsure of what to do next she kept everything inside afraid of what her parents, who were too busy working to listen, and friends, who were mortified she called the cops, would say.

Her only escape seems to be art class where her task is to pour her soul into creating trees. Her art teacher was the only one who paid attention to her but was dealing with his own complications of cutbacks and artwork. It’s crazy that something like art in school is one of the first things dismissed but it helps so many with expressing themselves. Art can definitely be better than therapy. Even the artwork on the door of the bathroom stall saved some souls and aggravation.

A particular bathroom stall gave Melinda the strength to graffiti the name of her attacker and helped her breath in ways unimaginable if you didn’t live through the circumstances she did.

This book was written in a way that makes me regret not reading it as a teenager going through my own angst issues as it speaks to teenagers and adults alike. It is an easy read as far as language is concerned but difficult to know that the healing process takes a toll on so many in our own community and world.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah Butland

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