Friday, May 29, 2009

Speak (YA Challenge 2009 #11 of 12)

Wow. I can see now why this book by Laurie Halse Anderson won awards. This was a one day read for me and I am sitting here trying to sort it out. Melinda is a high school freshman and is already an outcast at her school. She called the cops during a party right before school started and lots of people got in trouble. People throw food at her, call her names, ignore her, bump into her, and all the while Melinda stays silent. As the school year progresses Melinda falls into deeper and deeper depression as she tells her the bits of horror she has stored up within herself are revealed.

Reading this story hurt. I hurt for Melinda as she hurts herself. This book was written nearly twenty years ago and its frank tackling of the issues of rape and depression and the cruelty of high school is something that is sadly but incredibly necessary today. Speak has been repeatedly challenged in both public and school libraries though it is one of the least graphic books discussing these topics that I've read. It is an important book. There is an interesting interview with Anderson at the end where she says "Censoring books that deal with difficult adolescent issues does not protect anybody. Quite the oppositve. It leaves kids in darkness and makes them vulnerable." I liked Speak because it was a good story. A real story that was well told.

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