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.
Speak is one of my favorite books of all time. I first read it in middle school and found a kindred spirit in Melinda. What specifically happened to her didn’t happen to me, but I was able to relate to her in feeling like an outcast and being in my head all of the time. As I reread it this time around, I was able to appreciate it in the same ways I did as a teenager, but also in new ways as an adult and mother.
“There is a sprinkling of losers like me scattered among the happy teenagers, prunes in the oatmeal of school.”
I think one of my favorite things about this book is the main character herself. Melinda is hilarious, although, I wouldn’t classify this is a comedic book. Her negative outlook on high school and her sarcastic way of dealing with it are so familiar. She’s one of those chicks that, to me, is cool without being cool. And chicks like this are always the coolest. The person she is feels so real, and I’m so sad that she can only be found in this book. I want more Melinda!
“When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time. You’d be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside–walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer or a Mack truck to come along and finish the job. It’s the saddest thing I know.”
The writing in this book makes me so happy. There are certain vocabulary that a teenager probably wouldn’t use, but it didn’t bother me one bit. I was able to enjoy it as an 8th grader and an adult, so I think Laurie Halse Anderson has done a great job in creating a young adult novel that can be read by multiple ages. Her way with words through the inner voice of Melinda are secretive yet blunt. You aren’t sure what exactly is going on with Melinda for a while, but you know how she’s feeling and the writing makes you feel it too.
“BunnyRabbit bolts, leaving fast tracks in the snow. Getaway getaway getaway. Why didn’t I run like this before when I was a one-piece talking girl?”
The copy that I read is specifically the 15th anniversary edition, and I’m so happy I happened upon it. The interview with the author in the back is great. Laurie Halse Anderson really has a knack for understanding struggling teenagers. I think this story can benefit teens and adults alike, especially if read together as a parent/child or teacher/student duo. This is one of the books I hope to read with my daughter someday. I can’t wait to see what emotions and feelings this elicits in her as well as the conversations that will be started from first hearing Melinda’s story. I also plan to have it on my shelf in my classroom, if that dream ever becomes realized.
If you haven’t read this before, the time has come. I am going to link you to the paperback below because it’s actually cheaper than the kindle version, and I’m confident the majority of you are going to want this physically on your personal shelf. If you have already read this before, it’s time for a reread! Encounter Melinda as an adult and see her world from a different angle this time. This book will forever hold a special place in my heart.
To see purchase options for Speak through Amazon, CLICK HERE.
To learn a bit more about the mad woman in the forest, I mean, Laurie Halse Anderson, CLICK HERE.