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Speak Paperback – May 10, 2011
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“In a stunning first novel, Anderson uses keen observations and vivid imagery to pull readers into the head of an isolated teenager. . . . Yet Anderson infuses the narrative with a wit that sustains the heroine through her pain and holds readers' empathy. . . . But the book's overall gritty realism and Melinda's hard-won metamorphosis will leave readers touched and inspired.” ―Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“An uncannily funny book even as it plumbs the darkness, Speak will hold readers from first word to last.” ―The Horn Book, Starred Review
“A frightening and sobering look at the cruelty and viciousness that pervade much of contemporary high school life, as real as today's headlines. . . . The plot is gripping and the characters are powerfully drawn . . . a novel that will be hard for readers to forget.” ―Kirkus Reviews, Pointer Review
“Melinda's pain is palpable, and readers will totally empathize with her. This is a compelling book, with sharp, crisp writing that draws readers in, engulfing them in the story.” ―School Library Journal
“A story told with acute insight, acid wit, and affecting prose.” ―Library Journal
“Melinda's voice is distinct, unusual, and very real as she recounts her past and present experiences in bitterly ironic, occasionally even amusing vignettes. . . . Melinda's sarcastic wit, honesty, and courage make her a memorable character whose ultimate triumph will inspire and empower readers.” ―Booklist
About the Author
Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author of books for kids of all ages--including Fever 1793, Chains, Twisted, and many others. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous national and state awards, as well as international recognition. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Anderson was honored with the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award given by the YALSA division of the American Library Association for her "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature."
Anderson was born in Potsdam, New York in 1961. Growing up, she loved reading and listening to family stories. She graduated from Georgetown University in 1984. Before becoming a full-time writer, she was freelance journalist, and then worked part-time at a bookstore to earn money while working on her fiction. Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes.
Top customer reviews
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The beauty of this novel is that it could have survived alone without the much more sinister story behind it. But, that said, it also served as a very sad and moving voice for rape victims, particularly the vast amounts who feel at fault or scared or embarrassed by what happened. It was a quick, easy teen read but it's also the kind that plays on your mind repeatedly after finishing it.
I hope my review has been helpful to you. It encourages me to continue writing and updating my reviews. Please leave a comment if you have any questions, I will be more than happy to answer if I can be of help.
I'm not sure if the author intended for this book to be used in the classroom, but, either way, teachers everywhere are thankful for Laurie Halse Anderson! It is written to be read, absorbed, and discussed. The carefully chosen words are put together in ways that are easily relatable to teens everywhere. The hardships the characters face, as well as how they act and react to situations, mirror those you would see in a typical American high school. In addition to the audiobook, I also purchased a few copies of the paperback to add to our classroom library. The paperback includes an interview with the author, as well as discussion questions at the end of the book.
I felt the narration by Mandy Siegfried was great! She did the book justice. Her performance made me feel like I was watching the events unfold before my eyes. Whether you listen to or read this book, the time you put in will be worth it.
I rate this book a 5/5 stars. I feel it is an important, all too common, problem that teens are faced with as they enter (and continue through) high school. It would be a good addition to a classroom library, an after school book club, or a girls' group (although boys would also benefit from reading it). It is carefully written and narrated so that the language and events are real, but not offensive. It teaches important life lessons that, unless experieced, couldn't be learned otherwise. It is a must-read.
Thank you for reading my review. I hope it was helpful. :-)
You don't find out exactly what happens until over halfway into the book, but you can tell something went really wrong somewhere along the way. Why'd she call the cops to a party? Why do all her friends hate her? Why won't she say?
To have something so horrific happen at such a crucial part in your life.... Think about it. You're thirteen, you're at a party, IT attacks you. You're hurt, drunk, confused, and so young -- how would you react? Honestly, I don't even want to think about it.
And that's why I'm grateful for Speak. It makes you. It shows you what goes on in someone's head when IT happens.
This is something I hear about the book a lot: Melinda not talking is frustrating. I suppose whether or not you enjoy the book depends on if you are frustrated for the right reasons or the wrong ones. It frustrated me because I cared about her. Because her silence was hurting her so much -- both emotionally and physically. Her lips ... that part of the book has always stuck with me. Her cracked, bloody, slightly gross lips. They're a wonderful way to represent how her silence is hurting her.
If you don't understand why she can't speak up -- how hard that is for someone who has been through what she has -- or care about Melinda, then the silence will probably kill you. I guess I shouldn't call this the wrong reason. It's an opinion and all have a right to their opinions. But it's hard for me to understand how someone can think like this. Really. She was thirteen. It was that crazy summer between junior high and high school.
That exciting, huge point if life when you think you're done being a kid. When you're going to go to a new school -- weren't you nervous/excited/sososcared/sosohopeful/sosoeverything about that? Will you make new friends? Will you be friends with your old ones? Will you be popular? A loser? A social leaper? Will you get a boyfriend? Will you get your heart broken? Wtf will happen!?
Add to that what Melinda had to go through -- with being blamed and hated and pushed down at your lowest point.
My favorite part of this edition is the poem Laurie added. It was assembled from emails she got from people who read the book. It's so powerful -- to hear how much victims teens really relate to Melinda and her journey. Teens that have gone through the same thing or so much worse. Even adults.
There is so much meaning behind everything in this book. It's so brilliant that way. When you start to read it, you can tell the style is different than the norm and it'll be a literary book. But it's not one of those unreadable literary books. A normal person could easily enjoy it. This book is very entertaining.
Since Mellie doesn't talk, the entire book is pretty internal. What nightmares are going on in her head, what she's feeling, what she refuses to think/feel about.
Melinda's character arch is completed. Everything is so satisfying in the end. Laurie's endings are very similar to Courtney Summer's. When the book is done, it's done. It's such a powerful ending.
The final line is beyond perfect.
Another perk of the special edition
Laurie talks about writing a sequel to Speak. Maybe she could call it Spoke. She says she's open to the option, she's just waiting for Melinda to speak to her again. You get glimpses at Melinda in her other books, but ... even though a lot of things are left up in the air I like the way it ended. I don't want to mess with it. Melinda lives happily ever after in my head. Very happy.