Review: Speak


By Laurie Halse Anderson
(Speak, Paperback, 9780142407325, April 2006, 224pp.)

The Short of It:

Deceptively powerful.

The Rest of It:

Melinda’s first day of high school is even more horrid than she imagined. The friends that she had during the summer, are no longer speaking to her. Her decision to call the police during a summer party has made her the most unpopular person on the planet and no one wants anything to do with her. Once well liked and popular, Melinda finds herself navigating the first year of high school alone. No one knows her true reason for calling the police that night and if they did, would they even care?

Without going into too much detail, Melinda’s situation is not uncommon (unfortunately), but a situation that has the power to destroy and devastate on many levels. Broken and alone, her only option is to become silent. Turning inward, she attempts to make herself invisible and takes to hiding in a janitorial closet at school. As her grades slip, her parents fail her miserably in their poor attempt to understand what she is going through. With no immediate help, she begins to express herself artistically in the only class that she enjoys.

Speak is intensely powerful, yet tastefully done. I’m surprised that so many schools have added it to their banned book lists because it’s a book with an important message and one that deserves to be read. Anderson does a stellar job of conveying Melinda’s pain. There were many times where I found myself thinking about my old high school days, and even though that part of my life took place years ago, not much has changed. Kids can be jerks and “friends” come and go like the tides. The only way to deal with it is to know that you have value and that your voice matters no matter what others think.

Speak has been out for quite some time, but it’s a classic in that it deals with issues that all teens deal with. If you have a teen in your home, I urge you to read it first, share it with them, and then have a discussion about it.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

30 thoughts on “Review: Speak”

  1. banned books drives me crazy! Why don’t these people just police what their own kids read and leave other kids alone…and why can’t they learn about the realities of the world?!

    1. I’d much rather my kids know the realities of the world so they can better handle situations that are thrown at them. Not knowing, would mean not knowing how to deal with them too.

  2. Wow! Sounds like such a powerful read! I definitely have to give it a read at some point. And what is up with adding it to banned books (banned books is ridiculous in itself)? Books like these need to be read, because they are relevant and important reads that can really help people (either with having them talk about these issues or simply be reaching out to them). So glad you posted about this one! Thanks!

    1. I really do think it’s important that young people know what’s out there. My daughter is a very tender soul, the mere mention of violence can send her into a crying fit. She just cannot stand anything violent but every now and then, I still talk to her about stuff because I want her to know that it’s not all fairy tales out there. Bad things can happen and you can prepare for them and often times prevent them if you are aware of what is going on around you.

  3. Oh my gosh I loved this book!
    I don’t agree at all about it being banned! I think it is a VERY important book for girls to read! I made my daughter read it! She loved it.
    I saw the movie several years later and didn’t really care for it. So if anyone is thinking about seeing the movie instead – don’t!

  4. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while.. sounds so important and powerful and definitely something that is relevant to teens today. (And parents)

  5. This is one of the few (only?) YA books my book club has read, but what an excellent discussion we had! The author grew up in a nearby town… the school mascot actually is a hornet 😉

    1. It would make a great book club book. So much to discuss. Funny about the hornet mascot. My high school and the one closes to it didn’t have traditional mascots. We had a dynamite stick (no kidding) and called ourselves the Dynamiters or the Nitros, depending on who you asked. Our rival was a Tornado that spun around all the time. LOL.

  6. This book really blew me away, because I hit all the buttons and got it right. It really does take you back into high school…all the stigma and drama and nastiness. My daughter hasn’t read the book, but she and I got into a big discussion after I finished it. I think it should be required reading personally.

    1. It really does take you back. Being an outcast now, with social media at your fingertips, would be 10 x worse than what we knew back in the day. Can you imagine?

  7. This is one I’ve had absolutely no desire to read, and I guess partly because I would see it tossed around all the time but had no real idea what it was about. This is where (to me) blogging is so important. I trust you and your opinion, so I thought why not? I’ll check out the review. I can definitely tell this is one I’ll pick up at some point this summer. Thanks for “turning my head” a bit and breaking through my stubborn will. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jenn!! I like to throw older books into the mix sometimes too just to shake stuff up. I get tired of seeing only new releases in my reader.

  8. This is one of those that I really want to read, but have also been afraid of the emotional wallop, so I put it off. I can see it sitting on the shelf right now, doing a little read-me dance.

    Banning books is so night the right way to protect kids:(

  9. I recommend this one to students very often and they always find it worth reading, powerful, interesting, and they “get it”. Laurie Halse Anderson is just so good!

  10. It’s really shameful for any school to ban this book. It definitely does “speak” to young people about a very real situation that untold numbers of girls might face. I think, too, that just talking about the way the kids treat Melinda would make for a great discussion for high school kids.

  11. It has been a few years since I read this one, but it blew me away! It’s terrrifying to think of all the young girls this happens to.

  12. I am so glad you found Speak to be a worthwhile read, Ti. It touched me on a personal level and so it’s one that is near and dear to my heart.

  13. It seems they always ban the books that have the messages that would do a teen good to hear. It drives me nuts. That being said I have this book and need to read it. I really enjoy this author’s writing style.

  14. I’m sure the fact that it is well-written and helpful is the reason it is banned. The people that ban books seem to focus on those that can be the most helpful. So so sad.

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