"Speak up for yourself--we want to know what you have to say." From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication.
In Laurie Halse Anderson's powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.
From reading the synopsis of 'Speak', I knew it was going to be a heavy read. But with how highly regarded it is, I could only assume that it was written well and the tough topics were handled gently. Thankfully I was right.
There are definitely some graphic moments and the writing really puts you in the mind of Melinda as she lives her Freshman year of highschool as an outcast carrying around a horrible, traumatic secret. Even for readers who have not experienced sexual assault or rape, I think everyone can find a piece of themselves in this book. It's a great lesson about treating everyone with kindness because you never truly know what someone is going through.
Melinda's highschool experience and the way she views the things going on around her is very real and is a good representation of a kid trying to find their way. That makes the book more impactful. Because it feels so real.
I can see why this book is so highly rated and how it can speak to so many people on a deep level. If you jump in to it, you have to be prepared for a couple graphic scenes and a very real representation of trauma. So, if you are prepared for that and are in the right mindset to handle it, I highly recommend.