By Laurie Halse Anderson
Since the beginning of the school year, high school freshman Melinda has found that it's been getting harder and harder for her to speak out loud: "My throat is always sore, my lips raw.... Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze.... It's like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis." What could have caused Melinda to suddenly fall mute? Could it be due to the fact that no one at school is speaking to her because she called the cops and got everyone busted at the seniors' big end-of-summer party? Or maybe it's because her parents' only form of communication is Post-It notes written on their way out the door to their nine-to-whenever jobs. While Melinda is bothered by these things, deep down she knows the real reason why she's been struck mute...
Laurie Halse Anderson's first novel is a stunning and sympathetic tribute to the teenage outcast. The triumphant ending, in which Melinda finds her voice, is cause for cheering (while many readers might also shed a tear or two). After reading Speak, it will be hard for any teen to look at the class scapegoat again without a measure of compassion and understanding for that person--who may be screaming beneath the silence.
When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time.
I didn’t rate this based on whether or not I liked it, or found it an enjoyable read. Because the truth is, I didn’t. No, I did not like it. But let’s not take that to heart, shall we? Because the real truth is, it’s good. It’s brilliant. It’s exceptional.
Anderson’s writing style is unique, and while it was difficult for me to get into because I was not in the mood for depressing paragraphs, it was interesting. The way the story was divided instead of chapters made me curious. There were also a lot of hidden meanings I thought I came across that it seemed like the entire book was a journal written by Melinda. And though she didn’t speak much, the first person narrative helped connect us to her little by little.
Some may relate to a part of Melinda at any time in their life, whether it is in high school or in their everyday life. That’s how deep this book resonates with people, as it reaches out to the others out there who are possibly in the same situation as Melinda. So why try to ban the book?
Laurie Halse Anderson said, “Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance.” A true, unforgettable quote. By shoving away books like these, we cannot learn. Speak is important and it is definitely a book that I will always remember.