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Laurie Halse Anderson
Written from the perspective of Melinda Sordino, Speak chronicles her freshman year of high school as she contends with school-wide animosity for calling the police and breaking up a summer party.
For her actions, she has become a social outcast - a pariah.
Withdrawing from her old friends, her family, and herself, she spends her school days hiding in a janitor's closet, which has become her new sanctuary, and hides from the truth. No one knows the secret behind Melinda's silence, but, as the year progresses, she may just learn to speak again.
If you've ever been in high school, then you can relate to Melinda. She thinks what any student would think. She faces the same hazards. She braves the same treacherous roads. What she experiences, you may have experienced, at one time or another, in high school.
And, as Melinda braves her own trauma and flounders through the social hierarchy of high school, Laurie Anderson gives her narrator a clear and recognizable voice. She provides an incredible depth and realism to Melinda, which makes her story all the more heart-wrenching and genuine.
More importantly, Melinda's journey to find self-worth and healing will resonate with you. Her insight into tragedy, her thoughtfulness and candor make her story well worth reading.
Anderson writes with a teenager's voice in mind. Although I wouldn't say this is an entirely bad thing, since it makes Melinda seem realistic, her narrative occasionally borders on stream-of-consciousness. So, you may want to reread a few passages to fully understand.
High school can be ugly - and what Melinda faces there couldn't be uglier.
In particular, I would mention sections involving "The Beast" (that is, Andy Evans), because many of these sections reveal the true torment and violent emotional distress Melinda undergoes in high school.
Some of these sections, I can almost guarantee, will be painful to read.