Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

(No Series)  

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that's not safe. Because there's something she's trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.

“When people don't express themselves, they die one piece at a time.” 

When I first started reading it and noticed the abbreviated, choppy style, I thought oh no, not one like Girl, Interrupted! Thankfully it's clear soon enough it's not like that and the writing is actually poetically quaint and beautiful.

The protagonist is realistic and sweet but not sappy. Her life basically sucks and for good reason. I knew already what had happened, it wasn't a big surprise, and I don't think the author meant for it to be. It's not that someone spoiled it for me, I could just see it coming and guess from the writing and how it was leading.

Her parents were an intriguing case study in dysfunctional parenting, although they themselves were not abusive or necessarily bad parents, but a product of the times and motivated, self-centered work schedules. I dug how the author mainly focused on the school and gave each instructor a different personality that made sense and stands as the height of high school. Some of the characteristics bordered on comical and overdone, others rude and insensitive (we've all been there.) The strengths of the students were taken into account as well - jocks, goths, rebels, art types.

The symbolism with the speaking, and unable to speak, "snowball caught in the throat", and the art with the tree held heavy symbolism and great beauty. It reminds me of the small scene in her English Lit class where a classmate, her former friend, is arguing with the teacher that there is NO symbolism in Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter. The book which is rich in symbolism and art throws in this scene as an example, I believe, on blindness and people not looking deeper.

I also liked the inclusion of the closet and further broadening the hiding the protagonist felt she had to do, and how deep her angst ran without anything emo coming out of it. Her feelings and experiences were realistic and not glamorized. You feel for the character greatly and hope everything turns out okay for her in the end.

A highly recommended book and a good one for the age group especially. It's an important topic girls need to be aware of and watchful for, as well as a compassionate example of their friends or peers that may go through something similar. For a parental warning/rating, little is needed. Nothing is graphic and the flashback is not descriptive.

I had no idea when I borrowed this one it was 10  years old and from 2001, it seems like it was just written. 

   Book Quotes:

“You have to know what you stand for, not just what you stand against.” 

 “It's 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.” 
   Author Extras:

Speak Playlist from the Author's Website:

    Tori Amos "Silent all these years"
    Tori Amos "Girl Disappearing"
    Tori Amos "Crucify"
    R.E.M. "Try not to Breathe"
    Patty Griffin "Be Careful"
    Indigo Girls "Kid Fears"
    Indigo Girls "The Girl With the Weight of the World in Her Hands"
    Avril Lavigne "Nobody's Home"
    Blind Melon "No Rain"
    Dave Matthews Band "Cry Freedom"
    Goo Goo Dolls "No One Is Listening"
    Goo Goo Dolls "Black Balloon"
    Imogen Heap "The Moment I Said It"
    Imogen Heap "Getting Scared"
    Imogen Heap "Hide And Seek"
    No Doubt "Don't Speak"
    Nothingness "Drowning Pool"
    Oingo Boingo "Weird Science"
    Pearl Jam "Fade Away"
    Seether "Tongue"
    Three Days Grace "Never Too Late"
    White Stripes "As Ugly As I Seem"

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