Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak. Penguin Group, Incorporated. 224 pages. pap. $10.00. ISBN 978-0-14-240732-5.
Annotation: This is a year in the life of an outcast freshman girl who gets drunk at a party and ends up getting raped. The story is how she struggles for recovery.
Summary: Melinda Sordino, a freshman high school student, goes to a party at the end of summer. She drinks alcohol for the first time and gets drunk and she ends up getting raped. She calls the police to get help, but never tells them what happened. Instead, her friends get busted for underage drinking. Melinda becomes a school outcast; she retreats into herself and suffers depression. A helpful art teacher encourages her to express herself. Step by step she slowly develops the courage to face what has happened to her and can reclaim pieces of her life.
Evaluation: This is a well-written and surprisingly funny book, despite the serious subject matter. Through Laurie Halse Anderson’s use of humor, Melinda becomes a multi-dimensional character that readers are able relate to and sympathize with. Reading about Melinda’s transformation from being a victim unable to talk to starting to heal and express herself would be helpful to other teens going through touch challenges. Recommended for ages 14 to 18.
Genre / Subject: Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Identity, Friendship, Family, Rape, Abuse, Depression, Self-Worth, Schools
Awards: 2000 Michael L. Printz Award – Honor Book, 1999 National Book Award Honor Book – Young People’s Literature, 1999 L.A. Times Book Award Honor Book – Young Adult Fiction, 2000 ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2000 ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers