Category Archives: Adult/YA Crossover

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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Pure by Julianna Baggott

Pure by Julianna Baggott

Baggott, Julianna. Pure. Grand Central Publishing 2012. ISBN 1455503061

Reader’s Annotation: Pressia, a survivor of the Detonations who carries the constant reminder of the devastation in the form of a doll that is permanently fused to her arm in place of a hand. Patridge, a Pure who made it to the safety of the Dome before the Detonations took place.  Together they have to discover what really happened and who is responsible.

Plot Summary: Pressia barely remembers life before the Detonations but she carries the scars and mutilation that resulted from the Detonations. Upon her sixteenth birthday she finds herself being hunted by the militia and secret forces from the Dome but she does not know why.  Partridge, a Pure who was protected in the Dome during the Detonations, escapes the Dome in hopes that his mother is still alive outside of it.  The two meet and realize their past and futures are intertwined and they must work together to find out who was behind the Detonations and why.

Critical Evaluation

Perhaps due to the success of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and a number of other young adult dystopian novels I have seen this one marketed towards young adults though it’s listed on the publisher’s website as general fiction instead of young adult fiction.  The main characters within the book are teenagers but the world building is much more complex and in depth than in any of the other recent young adult dystopians that are being published.  The world Baggott weaves is amazing and horrifying at the same time.  She does not pull any punches when describing the horrors the survivors of the Detonations endure such as mother’s who are permanently fused to their children who stopped growing the day they became fused to their mothers.

That said the story moves at a glacial pace and was painful to read for the first 300 pages and would take a very dedicated reader to continue up to this point.  While the descriptions of life during the post-Detonation era are disturbing and sad I did not find myself very invested in whether or not Pressia is captured, if Bradwell helps her or if Partridge finds his mother.  All three fell flat and lacked the depth to make me really feel like I knew them.  When the story finally starts moving along and we find out some of the back history and plot twists I felt we get to know the characters a little better and in the end I was curious what would happen.  However, it might have been too little too late as many may not make it to this point or feel there was never enough to really want to read the following book.

About the author

Baggott is a bestselling author who has written 18 books and also teaches at Florida State University.  She also writes under the pen names Bridget Asher and N.E. Bode and film rights for Pure have already been acquired by Fox 2000.

She is also a co-founder of the nonprofit organization, Kids in Need – Books in Deed, which focuses of literacy and getting books into the hands of underprivileged children.

Genre

Fiction-Dystopia

Curriculum Ties

English

Book talking idea

Prejudices on the sides of both the Pures and the wretches who live outside the dome about each other.

Reading level

Grade 9 and up

Challenge Issues

Violence, graphic descriptions of injuries, deaths, etc..

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.  I would also have links of hand of the reviews by well known outlets such as Kirkus Reviews and the New York Times and a list of some alternative dystopian books.

Why did I include this book?

I am a huge fan of dystopia books which I believe is common across many teenagers as well.  While many label it as adult fiction there are also those who consider it young adult and therefore I believed it counts as a crossover title.  I wanted to see what all the hype about this book was.

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