Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Anderson, Laurie Halse.  Speak. Puffin.  2001 (First published in 1999). ISBN 014131088X

Reader’s Annotation: Melinda is a social pariah during her freshman year of high school thanks to her calling the cops at an end of summer bash. What happened that made Melinda feel she could no longer speak to her family and former friends?

Plot Summary: During an end of summer bash Melinda calls the cops who come break up the party and makes Melinda a social pariah.  She starts her freshman year with her former friends hating her and no one else wanting to get to know her. What caused Melinda to all the police and made it almost impossible to speak to anyone?

Critical Evaluation

Anderson tackles a tough issue that teens may face and the emotional upheaval Melinda must deal with is daunting and exhausting.  While hints are given as to why Melinda is in such turmoil it’s not until near the end of the story that we find out what happened at that fateful party.  Melinda’s character embodies so many of the emotions that teenagers must deal with when they find themselves ostracized from their fellow students for whatever reason as well as having to deal with a difficult home life.  It’s difficult to talk much about the storyline without giving away any spoilers but suffice to say this is an emotionally draining book.  The characters are wonderfully written and I especially loved Melinda’s art teacher.

About the author

Laurie is a New York Times bestselling author of numerous books that have tackled a multitude of tough issues such as rape, body image and eating disorders among them.  Speak has won numerous awards, was a New York Times bestseller and was made into a motion picture.

Laurie is also very passionate about American-history and has written several historical fiction books that have also won numerous awards.

Genre

Contemporary

Curriculum Ties

English

Book talking idea

Melinda talks about being an outcast at the beginning of the book.  Read that aloud.

Melinda turns an old janitor’s closet into her own safe haven.  Do you have your own version of a place that was meant for just you?

Reading level

Ages 14 and up.

Challenge Issues

Sexual assault/rape

I would have the library’s collection management policy on hand and explain that the library is not here to filter what patrons read.  If questioned about this policy I would direct the patron to the ALA Bill of Rights. Also have statistics on hand that rape or attempted rape is more common than most would think and teens need to know what to do and that it’s not their fault.

Why did I include this book?

Speak is such a well known book and Laurie Halse Anderson is an excellent author who comes highly recommended.  This covers a tough topic that many are afraid of confronting.

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Filed under Adult/YA Crossover, Fiction

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