Bibliographic information: Speak. Laurie Halse Anderson. Square Fish, 1999. $9.99. 198p. ISBN-13: 9780312674397.
Summary: Melinda is just starting high school. Over the summer break she went to a high school party with her friends. One of the most popular guys in high school took an interest in her and decided to act friendly with her, just to take advantage of her later that night. Melinda having had some alcohol earlier in the night was unable to prevent his actions. Soon after she stumbled into the party-house and called the police, not even thinking about the illegal party. This made all of her friends, and basically the entire school, angry at her so she never got the chance to tell her story. She continues to live in fear and pain for the rest of summer and through her first year of high school until she is finally able to speak out about what happened to her.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Written through the first person viewpoint of the main character, Melinda, this title captures the true charms and nature of a teenager. As reading, it feels like you are in the head of a very real teenager. After going through the worst experience of her life, Melina shuts down and pull into herself. She has this secret she should tell, she even wants to tell, but she doesn’t know how to do it and is afraid of what will happen if she does. These fears are rationalized and confirmed by her schoolmates and her best friend her who treat her like she has the plague rather than ask what is wrong. A very psychological ride and a true treasure for young adults who went through similar experiences. This book will give teens the courage to speak out about their own horrifying encounters. Highly recommended to all.
Readers’ annotation: She has a secret that she just can’t seem to tell anyone. She has a secret that is eating her alive.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The entire situation that Melinda goes through, being raped and bullied will speak to young adults who went through similar situations or are going through. They will be able to use this book as a way to gain encouragement to speak out about their situation and seek help from family and friends. This book is telling them that they do not need to be afraid to tell others what happen.
Issues present: This book discusses rape and bullying, as well as some under aged drinking. People may object to the violent nature of the rape and bullying that happened to Melinda, however these things happen to teenagers and it is important for them to be able to read about something that will help them cope with their situation.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Melinda’s character.
P. 7 – last paragraph – insight into main character
P. 5-6 – list of ten lies they tell you in high school, so true.
P. 8 fourth paragraph down, high school horror.
P. 198 – describes plot line.
Genre or subject: Realistic Fiction: rape, abuse
Readalikes: Just Listen, Thirteen Reasons Why, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, Living Dead Girl, I Was a Teenage Fairy, Boy Toy
Author’s website: http://madwomanintheforest.com/
Awards: National Book Award Nominee for Young People’s Literature (1999), Golden Kite Award for Fiction (1999), BCCB Blue Ribbon Book (1999), Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult (2000), Printz Honor (2000) South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book Award (2002), Horn Book Fanfare (2000), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2000), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2005)
Reviews: Kirkus Review: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/laurie-halse-anderson/speak/; Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Speak-Laurie-Halse-Anderson/pid=456480; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-374-37152-4
Why I chose it: A friend recommended this book to me so I thought I would give it a try. I was very pleased with the results.