Book Review: Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson


Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Published by Puffin on April 1, 2001

Series: n/a

Genre(s): young adult, fiction, contemporary

Format & Length: paperback, 198

Source: purchased

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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, written by a lovely author who promotes white-guilt in her free time.

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This is one of those books that stayed with me for quite a while after I finished reading it. I liked the main character, Melinda. Despite never having been in her exact situation, I felt I could understand and empathize with her. She and all the other characters were believable, as were their relationships.

Anderson’s writing here is excellent. There is a dry humor that diffuses the topic without being cheesy or trying too hard. The pacing was perfect, and seeing the different phases Melinda goes through mirrored in her art was well done.

Speak deals with both rape and depression in a way that is not overbearing but also does not make light of it. Aside from dealing with such a traumatic issue, it is actually enjoyable and an easy read. I highly recommend this book.


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