Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, 1999, young adult (YA) fiction
What made you want to read this book?
It's been chosen Chattanooga's A Tale for One City book for 2008, which the whole town is invited to read and discuss during the year. And I'm on the committee to arrange book discussions, reason enough to read it early. The book is also an award winner:
1999 National Book Award FinalistSummarize the book without giving away the ending.
School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
Booklist Editors' Choice
Melinda is a friendless outcast at Merryweather High. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether.
From whose point of view is the story told?
Melinda, the main character. She's the one I related to the most, and I felt depressed and discouraged right along with her.
Share a quote from the book.
Nobody, it seemed, would listen to her ... or really hear her cry for help. Here are some examples of how she saw her life:
About her parents: I bet they'd be divorced by now if I hadn't been born. I'm sure I was a huge disappointment. I'm not pretty or smart or athletic. I'm just like them -- an ordinary drone dressed in secrets and lies. I can't believe we have to keep playacting until I graduate. It's a shame we can't just admit that we have failed family living, sell the house, split up the money, and get on with our lives. (p. 70)Why was it banned?
About herself: Maybe I'll be an artist if I grow up. (p. 78)
Mr. Freeman, her art teacher: "When people don't express themselves, they die one piece at a time. You'd be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside -- walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer or a Mack truck to come along and finish the job. It's the saddest thing I know." (p. 122)
About her family: I got my "I don't want to know about it" gene from my dad and my "I'll think about it tomorrow" gene from my mom. (p. 148)
About high school: Sometimes I think high school is just one long hazing activity: if you are tough enough to survive this, they'll let you become an adult. I hope it's worth it. (p. 191)
The book is about sexual assault, and some parents apparently hope to shield their daughters from it by keeping them ignorant of the kinds of things that happen to some girls their age. Read Laurie Halse Anderson's commentary on a current challenge to this book.
Rated: 8/10, a very good book.