Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
|Image from goodreads|
Speak is a story about a teenage girl named Melinda Sordino who is turned into an outcast by almost everyone in her school including her friends after she called the cops on a big end-of-summer party. Her friends and schoolmates are too busy hating her to even find out about the terrible event that happened on the night of the party that prompted that phone call. Melinda deals with all these the best way she knows how, by hiding behind a wall of silence, taking the truth with her.
What I liked about this book is how the author captured to a tee, the language and the way of thinking of teenagers. The dialogue doesn't seem over the top or trying too hard to sound like a teen. Melinda's voice came out as genuine and believable. I was able to feel the self-consciousness, awkwardness, and peer acceptance-focused behavior that comes with being a teenager. The inner struggle going on inside Melinda about speaking up or burying her secret deep within. Melinda's outlet happen to be arts and this became her life saver along with the help of Mr. Freeman, her arts teacher.
I can't help but compare this to Wintergirls. Both touched on serious topics, both delved into the inner psyche of teens using Anderson's writing style of metaphors and inner self-talk. The protagonists, Melinda and Lia (of Wintergirls) share similarities in character, like thought editing for one.
But the difference lies in the way these girls reacted after they've been through what they've been through. Lia of Wintergirls reacted by clinging even more to her already existing eating disorder. Melinda on the other hand did so by limiting her speech and resorting instead to observing teachers and peers and making witty and sarcastic comments about them but only in her head. So, Wintergirls was more dark and Speak was made less dark through Melinda's humour, wit, and sarcasm.
I rooted for Melinda and really wanted her to speak up about what happened that night. There were moments that I wanted to speak in her behalf so as she could stop being the school pariah and get to live the life she used to and should have. But, I also understand her trepidation in telling someone about the incident. There's always that second guessing that is exactly the same as the "what-if-it-is-what-if-it-isn't?" argument I have mentioned in my preceding post. What if things get worse if I tell anyone? Well, what if it gets better if you do?
Laurie Halse Anderson truly has a thorough understanding of teenagers and she delivers it with authenticity. She also has a way of tackling serious topics that is refreshing. I get why this is a highly acclaimed book. It's another terrific read from the author.