With 400,000 ratings on Goodreads, you’d think I would have been more familiar with Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. My friend, Kacy, The Fettered Matriarch, reviewed this book last month and I was immediately interested in reading it, too. She was kind enough to lend me her copy and I had the strangest moment of deja vu when I opened the package! I suddenly remembered people reading this book in junior high and high school. I remembered wanting to read the book myself, but never getting around to it.
Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth.
Though this is young adult novel would have been suitable for me to read while it was new, nearly twenty years ago, I still found it relevant and relatable to today. This would be a book I would give to my daughter years from now and know she wouldn’t find it outdated. It’s a modern classic, able to stay applicable to each generation, in my opinion. Even as a twenty-eight-year-old mother, I saw pieces of my younger self in Melinda. This book made memories of my own freshman year (and most of high school) come racing back and made me wish I could have read this book then! I think it would have allowed me to find a confidence in myself I didn’t have at fourteen. If Melinda could find her voice, I could have too.
Speak deals with heavy, but important topics many parents may not feel able to talk to their children about. It allows kids to realize these terrible things can happen to them or their friends and creates a safe space for discussion. Though the subject matter is intense, this book is written with age-appropriate sensitivity.
Melinda’s internal monologue was my favorite thing about reading this book. She’s sarcastic and funny without trying to be. Her thoughts about high school are relatable and refreshing. I think many of the kids who feel as if they are the outcasts or the incredibly introverted will find a kindred spirit in Melinda’s personality. This book is meaningful and one I’m happy to hear teachers implement in their curriculums. I can only imagine the number of lives Speak has changed and possibly saved. Any book I can finish in a day is almost certainly going to receive the full five stars from me. I couldn’t put this book down and hope that if you haven’t had a chance, you’ll pick it up! 🙂