Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: 1999
Page Count: 198
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Speak is a National Book Award Finalist for the year 1999
Melinda is having a tough time at her first day of high school. She called the cops and busted a party over the summer and none of her friends (or anyone at school for that matter) will talk to her. She feels like an outcast and outplace, and worst of all, she hasn't told anyone the real reason she called the cops that night.
This novel has become a Young Adult classic, and I have been meaning to read it forever. I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it. I respect and admire this book very much, not only for its content, but for being a book for teens that tackled tough and sensitive issues in a time where not many books would touch on these sensitive, but real, issues teens faced. While what happens to Melinda is awful and difficult to think about, it is all too real. So is the fear to speak up.
This book made me think of the recent media stories on sexual assault and rape, and really made something clear for me. Melinda was afraid to speak up about what happened to her for many reasons, one of them that she thought and feared that no one would listen to or believe her. And she was very right to feel that way. Look at the reaction that women get today when they come forward to say they were assaulted or raped. Society is willing to believe the word of one man in the spotlight over the word of fourteen women. Fourteen women accused the same man of sexually assaulting them, and society takes the side of the one man! That just blows me away. This novel really draws attention to the bravery that it takes for anyone who has been assaulted or raped to speak up, and I really admire that.
Melinda is powerful in this novel. The end of the novel and the moment when she speaks her mind and her story clearly is very powerful and very inspiring. This book is an important addition to the Young Adult genre, and one that will never become outdated or old-fashioned. The message of speaking up and believing in yourself in order to find a way to start healing is very important, and very humbling.
I am so lucky to have the people in my life that I have, I am so lucky to KNOW without a doubt, that I will always be listened to by them, and I am so lucky to have access to stories like this and to be able to share them with others. Laurie Halse Andserson is a wonderful woman and wonderful author, and I highly recommend checking out all of her works.
Her website is also really great!
I would love to hear about your favorite Laurie Halse Anderson book you have read below! Mine is Wintergirls.