Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a (hopefully) regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. Today, I are going to share with you my review for an extremely powerful book that I recently read.
Summary: Made a social outcast for phoning police from an end-of-summer teen drinking party, Melinda rarely speaks through her ninth grade year. Isolated, bullied and emotionally tormented, this first person narrative communicates pain, and honesty about the high-school experience. Searing and riveting, with poignant and funny moments, the truth for her 911 call is eventually revealed, she was raped. -- Scholastic
Wow! I don't even know where to start with the novel SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson. I have read many reviews about SPEAK over the past few years, so I was kind of expecting it to be a powerful book. I was aware of the subject matter, and I knew that I would probably find it very disturbing; but I felt like I needed to read it no matter how uncomfortable it might make me. I couldn't put this book down and actually read it one night after the kids went to bed. This book was INTENSE! And it was also very, very good!
I don't know if it's because I'm a mother (but I really don't think so), but my heart just broke for Melinda. I moved around a lot as a kid and I didn't always make friends easily, but I never felt ostracized nor was I treated as poorly as Melinda was by her "supposed" friends. It was just so tragic -- I can't even put into words how gut-wrenching this book was for me! At times, I thought I could actually feel Melinda's pain -- what a great testament to the author!
Melinda is definitely going to be one of those characters that stays in my mind for a very long time. The story is told in Melinda's voice and I felt as if I truly got to know and understand Melinda. It was a very unique perspective because, as a reader, I actually got to know Melinda and her feelings better than her friends, teachers, and family (because she wasn't really speaking to any of them.) I also appreciated how Ms. Anderson portrayed Melinda's pain and even her need to stop talking -- it was very believable to me. Melinda felt as if her voice didn't mean anything to anyone in her life, and she just had to cope the best she could on her own.
While the book was deeply disturbing for me because of Melinda's anguish as well as the cruelty inflicted upon her, I did think the book ended on a hopeful note. I think that's what made me love this book even more, and I know the ending of the novel is what will stick with me. I love that Ms. Anderson showed that with the right people in a teenager's life and the right questions asked, it is not too late for a teenager to find their way. As I read this novel, I just knew that Melinda was a strong young woman, and I really wanted her to persevere through the horrific things that happened to her.
SPEAK isn't the first Laurie Halse Anderson novel that I've read -- I read WINTERGIRLS (my review) almost a year ago. I loved that book too (although love is a strange word to say about such disturbing books!) Somehow, Ms. Anderson is very in-tune with troubled teenagers, and I think she captures their emotions and actions perfectly. I will certainly be reading more of Ms. Anderson's novels in the very near future because I think she is such a terrific writer.
Booking Daughter is entirely too young to read SPEAK right now, but I do look forward to sharing this book with her in the future. It might be even make a good selection for our mother-daughter book club (way) down the road. There are so many things to delve into in this novel, and I think discussing this novel might be a great opportunity to bring up difficult topics with our girls. Plus, I'd love to hear what teenage girls think about this novel.
If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books, please leave a comments as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!