Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson

Our narrator, Melinda, starts the 9th grade as an outsider. In 8th grade, she had friends, she felt accepted. But an event at the end of the year turned her whole world around.

Like the title, Melinda comes off as the angsty, mis-understood teenager who refuses to communicate with adults. But the reader understands, from her inner dialoge, just how much turmoil there is under the surface. Melinda struggles with her teachers, her former friends Rachel and Ivy, new friend Heather, IT, and her feelings for a boy that she shares a few classes with. We constantly ask ourselves what happened to her, and slowly, as her 9th grade year goes on, Melinda begins to admit what she is going through.

We learn that Melinda and her friends had attended a party with high schoolers and that Melinda had called the cops. It isn’t until over half-way through the novel that she reveals what actually happened.As Melinda finds her true feelings through her art, she learns to speak to others, including those who once were her friends and had shut her out. She learns to find her voice about what happened to her.

I found myself wishing that her parents could see what the reader sees, but I know that it is a reality altogether too true, that the parents are so wrapped up in their own lives and do not know how to communicate with their teenager, so they simply don’t try.

I found myself wishing that Melinda’s attacker could pay for what he did. But it is, again, all too real that a man who attacks a woman walks away clean.

While the book was well-written, compelling, and kept me interested, I felt strangely unsatisfied at the end. Where was the justice?! Where was the understanding that came from those around her!?

But Laurie Halse Anderson knows that, ultimately, it is not justice, not understanding, but the power of our own courage that will save us.
Plot 4 stars

Characters 4 stars

Believability 5 stars

Suspense 4 stars

Romance 3 stars

Minor Characters 4 stars

Well-Written 5 stars

Ease of Read 3 stars

Overall 4 stars

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