Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title:  Speak
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher:  Penguin
Pages:  198
Genre:  Realistic Fiction
Age Level:  9th-12th Grade

Plot Summary:  
Melinda is a freshman in high school.  Instead of being excited to start the new year with her friends, she is feeling shunned, and outcast.  You see, there was a big end-of-summer party, and everyone thought she called the cops to bust it.  The truth is something that she can't tell anyone-not her parents, not her former friends, not her teachers.  Since she can't let the truth out, she decided to keep everything inside, barely speaking, skipping classes, and avoiding all thoughts of IT-that thing that happened to her.  She keeps it all inside, that is, until her ex-best friends starts dating Andy Evans-and IT forces her to make a difficult choice.  Speak up, and relive what happened, or stay quiet, and put her friend in danger.

It is hard to write the above summary without giving any spoilers about the big reveal-but I imagine anyone who is old enough to be reading this review probably already figured out what happened to Melinda.  I have to admit that it took me a little bit of time to get into this story.  Anderson does a great job of setting the scene of Melinda's deconstruction.  First it is little things-biting her lips, being late for class, not responding to teachers or the other kids-none of whom are terribly nice to her anyway.  But as you read, the tension continue to build, as Melinda gets quieter and quieter, and more and more withdrawn.  The only adult who really seems to "see" her is her art teacher, and he encourages her to use art to express whatever it is that is building inside.  Finally, Melinda must make a choice-let her friend get hurt, or continue trying to hide from what happened to her.  Anderson does a good job of showing that while Melinda thought she was hiding from the memories of that night at the party, really she was being eaten up from the inside by the things she couldn't say.  It may have been a slow starter for me, but it was worth it in the end-when Melinda finally stands up and speaks.

Teaching Resources: 

The Writer Lady 

Ms. Hogue's Unit Guide 

Speak Out! Reach Out! 

1 comment:

  1. This sounds good - thanks for the review. The cover caught me on this one right away!