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Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

"It is easier not to say anything. Shut your trap, button your lip, can it. All that crap you hear on TV about communication and expressing feelings is a lie. Nobody really wants to hear what you have to say" (pg 9).
That about sums up fourteen year old Melinda Sordino's rule of thumb: Don't speak.
When Melinda calls the cops at a high school end-of-summer party for an unknown reason, she goes into high school with people hating her for ruining everyone's fun. People throw food at her in the lunch room, she loses her best friends, and at a pep rally a girl tells Melinda that her brother, "got arrested at that party. He got fired because of that arrest. I can't believe you did that" (pg 28).
Melinda's grades are dropping, she's friendless, "clanless" (like cliques - pg 7). She is becoming withdrawn from her parents. She's skipping class, except for art, the only "class that will teach you how to survive" (pg 10). She is a selective mute, which means she chooses not to speak. But why? As the story unfolds, we learn in little bits and pieces why Melinda called that cops that traumatic night.
I read this fast-paced, moving novel in a day. It made me laugh, and cry. Anger, excitement, sadness ... every single emotion was being pulled out of my heart all at once.
Anderson came up with the character of Melinda in a nightmare, and she incorporated some of her high school experiences into the story. I like that, because it made the book even more real. I also like how the author just didn't come out and tell us what happened to Melinda, but how she broke it up throughout the book. It isn't censored, but real, raw, hardcore writing. I loved that. I loved Melinda's sarcastic, internal sense of humor, and how beautiful this complex character was. I just adored this book. It made me think, about parties and high school.
Inspiring readers for ten years, the uniquely formatted novel Speak moved me and moved others. It saved lives. I recommend this book to girls, to boys, to adults and children, teachers and students, to people who have no idea how to realte to Melinda and to those who do, and to parents who are afraid to talk to their children about parties. Most of all, I recommend this book to those who have shared Melinda's experience, and to those who are afraid to speak up.





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