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Review – Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak
by Laurie Halse Anderson
198 pages
1999

I was intrigued by this book after reading a few reviews of it. It’s a YA novella that is a quick read at 197 pages. I received this book from Bookmooch while I was in the middle of reading East of Eden. I did the worst thing you can possibly do when you’re already involved in another book: I started reading the first page. BAD IDEA! I wanted to continue reading it; I knew that it wouldn’t take long to read, but I was committed to East of Eden for my book club, so I reluctantly put down Speak and promised myself I could pick it up the second I finished East of Eden.

The book is about Melinda, a high schooler who called the cops on an end-of-summer party she attended. Now she’s an outcast and something happened at the party that has caused her to withdraw into herself and almost quits talking altogether.

The writing is very simple, though not juvenile. The sentences are generally short and choppy, but it helps convey the mood of the story and the personality of Melinda. Here’s an excerpt:

My Enlish teacher has no face. She has uncombed stringy hair that droops on her shoulders. The hair is black from her part to her to ears and then neon orange to the frizzy ends. I can’t decide if she had pissed off her hairdresser or is morphing into a monarch butterfly. I call her Hairwoman.

Melinda ends up in art class where you see her struggling with a year-long project she’s been assigned. The more in touch with her feelings and what happened at the party (which she refuses to even think about, partitioning it off into a part of her memory that she will not visit) she becomes, the easier it is for her to progress on her art project.

This would be a fascinating book to discuss in a book club, no matter what the age of the participants. The writing is such that a lot is left to the imagination, though there is plenty of fodder for discussion of themes and issues.

Rating: 87

Don’t take my word for it, though…these other people reviewed it, too. See what they had to say!

| Tags: , , , , 11 comments »

11 Responses to “Review – Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson”

  1. Suey

    Are you doing the thing where you try to gather other reviews of book you’ve reviewed? If so, you can add mine to the list too! I loved this book and have this little review on my blog:

    http://sueysbooks.blogspot.com/2008/02/review-speak-by-laurie-halse-anderson.html

    [Reply]

  2. Suey

    I reviewed this book too awhile back. I tried to put my link in here, but it won’t let me (so frustrating!!!) but anyway, yeah, I loved it too! I like how you said the writing is simple but not juvenile…. my favorite kind.

    [Reply]

  3. Lisa

    My co-blogger reviewed this over the weekend. There are a few more spoilers in her review, but it can be found here:
    http://ratherread.wordpress.com/2008/05/11/speak-by-laurie-halse-anderson/

    [Reply]

  4. Nancy, aka Bookfool

    I enjoyed this book, although what happened to the teenager is horrifying. I read it in 2006, not long before I began blogging, so no review to link to.

    [Reply]

  5. Review - Speak « Book Addiction

    […] Trish’s review here, Susan’s review here, Muerta’s review here, Stephanie’s review here, and […]

  6. softdrink

    I don’t know if I could make it past the cover…it’s pretty creepy.

    [Reply]

  7. Natasha @ Maw Books

    I’ve always wondered what this one was about. I think I’ll get around to this one eventually.

    [Reply]

  8. jeane

    I’ve reviewed it too. It’s a great book!
    my review

    [Reply]

  9. Terra

    i’m reading this book right now, my teacher thought it would be a good book to get the class interested in reading. I love it, it really connects to high school students, like me.

    [Reply]

  10. Clark

    at first when i was assigned to read this i thought it would be too much of a girly book, but once i started reading, i liked it. its terrible that people actually do things like what happened to melinda.

    [Reply]

  11. Laurie Halse Anderson – Speak « Fyrefly's Book Blog

    […] Bookshelf, The Bluestocking Society, Book Gazing, Bookalicious, Books on the Brain, GalleySmith, Hey Lady! Whatcha Reading?, Maw Books Blog, A Novel Menagerie, She is Too Fond of Books, Things Mean a Lot, Trish’s […]

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