SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson (Banned Books Week)
Melinda wanders the halls of her school. She sees the excitement of the cheerleaders (which she has much opinion on this group), the decorations for the upcoming dance, people passing her… passing her… passing her by. The preps, the jocks, the human waste, euro-trash, big hair chix, goths, thespians, shredders, country clubbers, suffering artists… all roaming the halls in their little herds… Melinda stands alone.
She is outcast. And she is not speaking.
There is no point in looking for her friends…. err.. ex friends. Her best friend Rachel, now goes by Rachelle. They have moved on without her. Ever since the day she called the cops during the party she was attending, the entire school population has turned their back on her.
What they do not know is why Melinda called the cops that fateful night. Why…. why …. why…. they don’t know about IT. They don’t know about the rape. If only Melinda could Speak. Instead, she stops speaking… to her parents, to her teachers, to anyone.
Reposting from my original post on 9/28/2010
Told in the first person of Melinda, I found this book to be filled with raw and real emotion. Melinda narrates with a true teenager voice. She is sarcastic and funnily so.
The first ten lies they tell you in High School:
1. We are here to help you.
2. You will have enough time to get to your class before the bell rings.
3. The dress code will be enforced.
4. No smoking is allowed on school grounds.
5. Our football team will win the championship this year.
6. We expect more of you here.
7. Guidance counselors are available to listen.
8. Your schedule was created with your needs in mind.
9. Your locker combination is private.
10. These will be the years you look back on fondly.
I have to be honest… I picked up this book because I was hearing all the hype around it being challenged and I was hearing also the other side of what this book was about. After reading it, I am pro this book. I did not find the subject matter to be anywhere near as strong as it was described and certainly not offensive. I thought Laurie Halse Anderson wrote in a very tasteful manner about a hard subject.
The book is a quick read and an important one. I loved Melinda’s inner dialogue throughout the book, and it is interesting to watch her grow in her own self-confidence through the dynamics that Laurie Halse Anderson breathed into other characters.
A book like this may help young girls find their voice to SPEAK. And that is really what SPEAK is all about.
FYI: Before she was Bella, she was Melinda. Kristin Stewart plays the lead in the movie SPEAK. (Which I am excited to see!)
Why was SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson banned?
The 1999 young adult novel Speak, which chronicles a high school freshman’s struggle with the aftermath of rape, was challenged by a Missouri professor and father of three in June.
Wesley Scroggins, an associate professor of management at Missouri State University in Springfield, made a public complaint to his local school board about Speak and two other books included on English reading lists at Republic High School. Scroggins also issued an editorial in the Springfield News-Leader on Sept. 18, in which he categorized Speak and other books on the high school reading list as “material that should be classified as soft pornography.”
I purchased my copy of SPEAK at Barnes and Noble