Friday, September 30, 2011

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Copyright: 1999
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: young adult
Pages: 198
Challenges: Young Adult, I want more book challenge
Author's Website
My rating: 5/5

I'm going to deviate away from my normal review format for this book.  I don't actually want to give a short review of this one because I think it's best read not knowing exactly what's going on and I don't want to give away any spoilers.

I picked this book up because it's Banned Book Week.  Based on my recent trend of not managing a lot of reading time I had hoped to also finish this week but wasn't sure I would. Surprise Surprise..I plowed through it.

I knew this book had been challenged by a professor in Springfield, MO last year.  This guy's an idiot..and that's the nicest word I could come up with to describe him.  His reasoning behing wanting it banned is so off, it's laughable. Well, I would laugh if we weren't talking about banned books, something I'm very passionate about.

So to give you a brief, but non-spoiler, idea of what this book is about, let me introduce you to the main character.  Melinda is a freshman in highschool.  She had friends when she was in 8th grade but upon starting 9th grade she finds herself an outcast.  Everyone has turned their backs on her.  She doesn't speak, or at least it's very rare.   She keeps to herself.   She doesn't take care of her appearance.  She doesn't participate in school; often skipping it.  Melinda is severely depressed.  We don't know why.

Going in to this book I thought I remembered what was going on but didn't know for sure. I didn't bother looking up reviews or reading the back of the book. Because I already had an idea, I figured out what probably happened and I ended up being right.  However I liked not knowing for sure until the reader finds out from Melinda, which isn't in the beginning.   Not knowing for sure helped me focus on Melinda and pay attention to her signs.  Pay attention to what she was feeling and thinking and going through.   I can't say that I understand what Melinda was going through, I haven't experienced the same thing, but I've experienced some stuff in my life and suffered severe depression in High School.  So I really felt for Melinda and I just wanted to wrap her up in a bear hug and protect her.  Not sure Melinda would want that though.

I'm really glad I read this book for banned book week.  I felt the writing was excellent and very true to Highschool life.  Anderson wrote a fantastic novel and I highly recommend it.


bermudaonion said...

I loved this book too and it just blows my mind that someone would want to ban it.

Kris said...

Bermudaonion - I know! It's such an important topic for kids to read about.

samantha.1020 said...

This is a book that just blew me away when I read it. I plan on rereading it at some point because I thought it was just that good. Great review!

Bookfool said...

Same here - loved this book and I think it addresses a very important topic. I love the way you skirted the theme. I agree; it was best slowly revealed. I didn't know what it was about when I opened it, either.

Anna said...

I can't believe this book was banned, and the reasoning definitely is crazy! I thought this book was really good, but Melinda's parents infuriated me. How could they not know something was wrong?!?

Kris said...

Samantha - I think this is a book I could reread at some point too. Unlicked the idiot who wants to ban it, I think it would be a great book to actually read with a child and discuss.

Bookfool - I'm glad you agree that it's best figured out as you read it, I think it just adds to the book.

Anna - I forgot to mention the parents! Oh how they made me so freaking mad! I wanted to shake them and tell them to pay attention to their daughter!!! At the same time, I know it's common for parents to be like that. I was severely depressed as a teenager and my parents did nothing about it. So while it angered me, I also realized it's pretty darn common.

Literary Feline said...

I read this one last year for Banned Book Week and am so glad I did. It's such an important topic and one that needs to be given voice to.

Kris said...

Literary Feline - exactly! I just don't understand banning books.