Tag Archives: Teen Issues

Review: Speak

Speak

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.

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Review: Heft

Heft

Heft
By Liz Moore
(W. W. Norton & Company, Hardcover, 9780393081503, January 2012, 352pp.)

The Short of It:

If you are looking for a book that is wonderful, heartbreaking, touching and incredibly meaningful… then you’ve found it.

The Rest of It:

At age 60 and over 500 pounds, Arthur Opp finds himself in a strange predicament. For twenty years, he’s remained in his house, refusing to go outside. What he needs, he has delivered to the house. Food, supplies, you name it. He’s a thoughtful man, and very lonely yet he’s been removed from society for so long, that he fears he may never leave the house again.

Charlene, was a student of Arthur’s in college. While taking his class, she and Arthur had a connection that neither of them could explain. Charlene, plain and socially awkward, found a friend in Arthur that she’s not had since. Not even after 20 years. Although their physical friendship ceased after she left college, she continued to write letters to Arthur for a few years and those letters meant more to him than she could ever possibly know.

Now, twenty years later, Charlene writes to Arthur once again to tell him of her son, Kel. She asks Arthur if he can help Kel by providing the guidance that he so desperately needs. Arthur’s excitement over her letter, sets a series of events into motion. For one, the hiring of  maid. An act that causes great stress for Arthur, after all…no one has been in his house for years, yet with this stress, comes friendship (of all things) and his friendship with Yolanda, the maid, brought many smiles to my face.

This was a fabulous read. Absolutely fabulous and it brought me to tears numerous times. These characters are wonderfully flawed and honest and vulnerable and well…real. It’s the type of book that has you cheering for EVERYONE and that is such a rare thing, to be able to cheer for everyone. The story is told by Arthur and Kel in alternating chapters and let me tell you, the structure worked for me. The beginning was a tad slow, just a tad but once you get going, you won’t be able to put it down.

Plus, this is the first book I’ve read that had a character with Lupus. As a person who tests positive for Lupus every now and then, I am happy to see Lupus getting some attention. It’s a disease that affects many, yet many haven’t a clue what it is. Although it wasn’t the focus of the story, the effect that is has on one of the main characters is touching and heartbreaking and devastating in the way only a serious illness can be.

As I was reading this book, I felt that it could easily cross into Young Adult although it’s not classified as such. It’s an easy read, yet deals with some really heavy themes, all of which held my attention and made me love this book even more.

Heft will definitely be one of my faves for 2012. I want everyone to read it.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.