January 8, 2015

Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


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Publish Date: October 22nd, 1999
Publisher: Puffin
Rating: 2.5 / 5
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I borrowed a copy from my local library.

Blurb:
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.

Ugh, I feel terrible for saying this, but I didn’t enjoy this book. It had been sitting on my Goodreads to-read shelf for quite some time and it was a highly rated Young Adult book in 2014 so I decided to give it a shot. Now I’m wishing I could have these 4 hours of my life back to read something more enjoyable!
The book starts off slow. Too slooooooow.

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Melinda enters her freshman year of high school as a social outcast because of one phone call she made to the police at a party the previous summer. Her supposed childhood best friends don’t speak to her, strangers laugh at her, and the occasional lunch tray food item is thrown at her.

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I don’t understand.. This book was published in 1999 and I started my freshman year of high school in 2001. Kids were not this hateful.. But ok, maybe kids in Syracuse are...? Anyhow, the first half of the book is Melinda being a loner. Melinda being silent. Melinda not responding to parents/teachers when they talk to her. Melinda skipping school. Melinda getting bad grades. Snooze. Finally, there is a “big reveal” on page 134. I say big reveal in quotation marks because let’s be honest, we all knew what happened to Melinda at that party.

Spoiler excerpt ahead:
He is so heavy. There is a boulder on me. I open my mouth to breathe, to scream, and his hand covers it.
In my head, my voice is as clear as a bell: “NO I DON’T WANT TO!” But I can’t spit it out. I’m trying to remember how we got on the ground and where the moon went and wham! shirts up, shorts down, and the ground smells wet and dark and NO! — I’m not really here, I’m definitely back at Rachel’s, crimping my hair and gluing on fake nails, and he smells like beer and mean and he hurts me hurts me hurts me and gets up and zips his jeans and smiles.

Ahh this, though..! This tugged at the heartstrings and made me finally feel something for Melinda.. but…. I’m not gonna lie, the rest of the book, disappointing!

The brief end wrapped up a little too nicely. In my opinion, there really didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why Melinda finally started talking and getting the guts to stand up to people. Then all of a sudden people were talking to her and being friendly with her after her run-in with IT, her relationship with her family improved, and she was willing to tell her life story to her art teacher. Wait, what?

I personally will never read this book again, but I do encourage others to read it because they may be more sympathetic and understanding than I. (;