Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak (Platinum Edition)Melinda has lost her everything, herself, her clan.  She is a much different girl than she was before, withdrawn, despondent.  It happened at a party.  People think she was a snitch, but what they don't know is she was trying, desperately, to cry out for help.  What they did not know is that her voice, her will, her self, was lost, no, was stolen.  By rape.

I really wanted to make a vague summary of this book, because, well, because you need to read it.  We all need to read it.  This book has rocked me to my very core.  The story of Melinda is one we all know, in some form.  Either we know girls like her, or we are girls (or boys) like her.  Or something else has damaged us, stolen our voices.  How many people have stories like this that will never ever be told.

I loved this book beyond words.  There are parts of the book that make you chuckle, there are parts of the book that make you weep.  But mostly, the book made me want to speak out, about the terrible injustices that happen to women, to everyone.  The book made me want find Melinda and hold her, hug her, cry with her, and tell her she is beautiful.

The book is considered controversial, because it deals with teen rape, and that is construed as violent and overly sexual.  But rape IS violent, and it DOES happen.  How many kids did this book give a voice too.  Some of the reviews and comments about this book on merchant websites appall and sadden me.  Yes the book is graphic, but no more so, in fact less so, than many popular teen books.  And the message is so important.  Listen below to a poem the author wrote about responses she has gotten to the book.

Because the book does deal with such an intense trauma, I would recommend it for readers 14 and up.  But other than that, I sincerely think everyone should read this book.  Not forced as part of a school curriculum necessarily, because the readers might resist and not get the message.  I think everyone should come to this book in his or her own time.  Read it, and help all those who need to speak.

This book is from my personal library.