After reading Wintergirls(my review), by Laurie Halse Anderson I absolutely had to read more of her work. I chose Speak next because of its message. If it is one thing I learned from reading Wintergirls, it’s that Anderson can make you cringe at the same moment you hungrily page turn for more. Speak wasn’t as disturbing to me as the previous work I read by this author, but it definitely had its own sinister plot that is relevant to what our teenagers go through today. I know some teachers are using this work in their curriculum and I have to commend those who do, especially in middle grades.
The story follows Melinda Sordino through her transition from middle to high school. The summer in between Melinda is at a party, has a drink or two like everyone else and is taken advantage of. She calls the police in a panic, and when her peers find this out they completely ostracize her and haze her daily. Melinda never found a time to tell everyone what really happened to her and over time loses her ability to speak about that night, and to speak a lot in general.
This story takes us through the horror that is teen date rape, especially in the very young scenario. We learn how Melinda tortures herself and learns to feel through art, and begins to heal. The emotions in this store ring true and you feel as if you are reading and actual memoir more than a fiction story. Anderson has the ability to create a world that is so disturbingly delicious that you can’t turn away from the issue she is writing about even though you may want to. I recommend this book to young adults, and adults alike. If we learn to understand the issues that plague society then ignorance cannot prevail and some of these girls can be saved.