Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson ISBN: 978-0312674397, Square Fish; Reprint edition (May 10, 2011)
Speak relates the story of a young, Melinda Sordino, who was raped while drunk at a party. Melinda dials 911 but then does not say anything. The police bust the party up and Melinda is forced to start her freshman year at high school as an outcast. Unable to tell anyone about what happened to her, she withdraws within herself. Her parents and teachers worry that she is not talking, but assume that she is just trying to get attention. It is not until her former best friend is in danger that Melinda finds the courage to speak.
In Speak, Laurie Anderson does an excellent job of getting inside the head of a fourteen year old rape victim. On the outside, Melinda rarely says anything, but on the inside, Melinda is busy reliving the event. The fact that Melinda was drunk at the time that the rape occurred makes the rape more difficult to bear, as she must wonder if she is at all to blame. Melinda’s internal dialogue augments her actions, giving the reader the reason for her actions while other characters within the novel suppose that she is just seeking attention or is just plain creepy. Anderson is also deft at recreating the realities of high school life that include friendships of convenience, that is, friendships that exist merely so that a student does not have to be seen to be alone. Heather’s swift attachment to Melinda and her just as swift discarding of their “friendship” when she finds a better clique to join has the painful ring of truth that many teens will understand.
Information about the author:
Will Grayson and Will Grayson are two completely different boys. Will Grayson has friends, is college bound and does his best to 1. Shut up. 2. Don’t care too much. Will Grayson has no friends that he cares about and is fighting a constant battle to keep from killing himself. They are about to meet on one crazy night that will change both their lives.
Can you imagine how it would be if something really bad happened to you but you were unable to talk about it.
Reading Level/Interest Age:
Grades 8 and up
I would make sure that all material was purchased in accordance with my library’s collection development policy and make sure to keep a file containing positive reviews for books that I thought might be challenged. In the event of a challenge, I would actively listen to the parent’s concern and ask if they had read the book. I would then explain why the book had been added to the collection and provide with the reviews and a copy of the collection development policy. I would affirm that they are within their rights to limit what their children read, but that other parents also have the right to determine what their children can read. If all else failed, I would provide the parent with a reconsideration form.
Reasons for inclusion:
This book was a national award book finalist.