Speak speaks to the teenage experience and to the terrible realities of misunderstanding, loneliness, and emotional damage.
I could not put this book down. I stayed up late reading it last night and then could hardly fall asleep I was so affected.
There were lots of things I liked about it, but here are a few particulars:
- Melinda seemed real to me. It's ironic that even though Melinda hardly ever talks, you hear her all the way through the book. You know exactly why she can't tell her parents anything. You know exactly why she's estranged from her best friends. Laurie Halse Anderson, the author (who I'm convinced is a genius), never has to tell you. She shows you.
- The narrative is beautiful. And since it's written in first person present tense, it's also unusual.
- Melinda starts off as a victim. You feel horribly sorry for her, so sorry you want to climb into the book and wrap your arms around this dirty, depressed, silent, fearful child. You want to be the listening mother she doesn't have. But on the other hand, there's a strong side to her too. A hilarious side. I almost peed my pants laughing when she described her Spanish classes: the teacher who wants to speak only Spanish and ends up teaching entirely in charades. Life through Melinda's eyes is funny. Painfully funny. Ridiculously funny. But nobody in her world gets to see this side of her because she hides inside herself, silent and tangled.