Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Finished 7-25-12, rating 3.5/5, Young Adult, pub. 1999
Unabridged audio 5 hours. Read by Mandy Siegfried.
Melinda is starting her freshman year as an outcast after calling the cops at an end-of-summer party. Lots of kids got in trouble and blamed Melinda. Melinda didn’t mean to spoil everyone’s fun, she meant to report a crime, one that she has kept secret and has continued to haunt her. Her friends no longer talk to her and the only one who goes out of her way is the new student Heather, who doesn’t know any better. Melinda spends her year in a janitor’s closet, skipping school, and rarely talking.
The book addresses the aftermath of rape and it is a poignant story of how a young girl can lose herself when there is no one to lean on. It is an important topic and one handled thoughtfully. I can see why so many people like it. High school is tough enough and having to start it with such a black cloud hanging over you is unimaginable.
There were a few things that kept me from loving this one, but it’s the way high school was depicted that bothered me the most. Or maybe Melanie’s silence, which at first was easy to understand, but became less so as the story continued. I had a hard time believing that not one person would talk to her in her high school. An outcast she may have been, but schools are full of them and it seems like she may have found some solace with at least one of them. I totally sympathized with her depression, she was so, so young, my heart broke for her. I hope that when this happens in real life there is at least one person who is willing to get to the bottom of what the problem is. She didn’t have one person who cared enough.
Melanie’s voice, told in first person, was perfectly captured by narrator Mandy Siegried. She captured the haunting and the hurt and depression just right.
I think I’m in the minority on not loving this one. I don’t read a lot of YA, so maybe I’m being too harsh. I did like it and think it is a perfect book to start a discussion with teens.
I checked this audio out of the library.