Speak

Anderson, L. H. (2011). Speak. NY: Square Fish.

Melinda Sordino is a freshman at Merryweather High School in Syracuse, New York, with a secret that is holding her back from living her life as a carefree teenager. Over the summer, she and her friends went to a party and Melinda ended up calling the police, causing her friends and everyone at the party to hate her. Melinda’s only bright spot at school is art class, where she is working on a year-long project to create various interpretations of a tree. In the school hallways, she occasionally sees IT, Andy Evans, and she slowly begins to face what he did to her. Acknowledging the fact that she was raped, Melinda begins to recover. She worries about his intentions for her ex-best-friend, Rachel, and finally tells Rachel what he did. While Rachel doesn’t believe this, Melinda begins to feel free after speaking up. As the school year comes to an end, Melinda is forced to confront Andy once again when he corners her in the janitor’s closet she had claimed for her own. She defends herself and gains the respect of the school as many other girls have also suffered Andy’s attacks silently. She finally completes her tree and shares what happened to her with her art teacher. Wow. I’m so glad this book was on our list. Having two daughters made this incredibly difficult to read without crying or screaming. This is such a powerful novel, but as I was reading I wondered if some teens would recognize her depression if they hadn’t experienced it, either themselves or someone close to them. The sleeping, cocooning in her bed, hiding her mirror in the back of her closet – these are all seemingly normal things a teenager might do, but in Miranda’s case they were caused by depression. I would recommend this novel to 8th grade and up.

Extras:

Book trailer

Poem Listen created from letters from readers about the book, read by Anderson

Author’s website

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