December 21, 2009

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Date Started: December 21, 2009
Date Finished: December 21, 2009

Summary:  Melinda Sordino is an outcast because she called the police and broke up a wild party. She had her reasons for calling the police, but she must keep them a secret. As a result of the incident that occurred at the party, Melinda is silent and doesn't speak. She is failing school, ditching class, her parents are fighting and inattentive, and her friends have deserted her. Melinda only has her art class to look forward to and her assignment is to spend the year with artistic works centered around the word given to her by her teacher. Melinda's word is "tree". When the past comes to haunt her, will Melinda be able to speak up for herself and protect her friends?

Likes: Even though Melinda doesn't speak much, her inner thoughts are amazing to read. I found myself chuckling and laughing at the way she perceives the world. I felt myself crying when she recounts the incident at the party. The author has made Melinda an intelligent and witty character who doesn't wallow in her sorrow. It is obvious that the inicident has messed her up pretty bad. She doesn't have any friends, people push her and bump into her at the halls. Melinda doesn't dwell on it though, which makes this book great to read. She doesn't mope around the entire book and when she does mope, it's not unwarranted or annoying. It is how she interacts with others and how she shuts down when things go wrong or remind her of that terrible event that makes the story interesting to read. When she comes to the terms with the incident, we watch her journey for being a pushover for her new "friend" Heather to finally standing up for herself and saving countless others by speaking up.

Dislikes: The ending was a little weird. It was believable, but it seemed out of place. Andy's character didn't seem real to me, just an archetype of a good looking guy that girls are supposed to fear. I wish there had been some way to get a more human side of him and to make him a fully rounded character, but since the story is in Melinda's point of view, we rightfully see him as the villain. I can understand why we don't get that aspect of the story, but I still wish as a reader I could see a glimpse of something that makes Andy more fully rounded.

Overall:  I loved this book. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and I was totally invested in Melinda's story and her journey through healing. Very few books can elicit that response in me, so I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. I just thought it was going to be about a emo girl trying to get over a bad event, but dwelling and complaining about everything. I am very glad that book wasn't written that way and I hope to read more books from Laurie Halse Anderson.


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