In reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, I now understand why it was given so many awards! It was so full of suspense! Melanie’s powerful story was so compelling that as soon as I got into the “meat” of it I literally could not put it down. My husband tried to talk to me but I just “uh-huh, yep, yeah” answered his questions and kept on reading for hours. When I got home from work last night I was on page 60 and wasn’t that into it but when I sat down after dinner to read I read until I reached the back cover. I had a hard time getting into the story because there are many open-ended situations that I didn’t understand but as I began to “uncover” some of the mystery I was in the reading zone.
As I watched Melanie’s character from the beginning, to call her depressed would be an understatement. She is the girl who doesn’t have a single friend…until the new girl, Heather, came. But soon Heather was swooped up into the clan life and wanted to be part of the Martha’s and needed to get away from her sad little leach (Melanie) if she was going to survive in the popular high school world.
Thankfully, Melanie found the love for art. Mr. Freeman, her teacher, gave her the subject of a tree to explore and divert into any emotional form she felt necessary. As Melanie went through block after block of linoleum she ended up trashing it all and creating the most perfect drawing of a tree that depicted the emotional rollercoaster that was her life.
…talk about a lot for a young girl to go through.
I was so utterly confused when Melanie kept referring to “IT” and how disgusted she was by “IT” but it wasn’t until I took a deep dive into the text to figure out it was Andy Evans, the jerk-face who raped her when she was drunk for the first time. That chapter gave me the chills for sure. How nasty of him and to have the rep he does as being a player and still get the young chicks (like Rachel/Rachelle) flocking all over him. But thankfully Melanie watched out for her, even when she was being rude and ignoring her…thinking that she called in the party, Mel was trying to protect her from that predator Andy.
Things soon got heated up when Melanie wrote that note to Rachel telling her what really happened that night at the party. Rachel freaked out and didn’t believe her, but it ended up being true and it all came out at the prom. I was so enthralled in the book when Andy trapped Mel in the closet and was attacking her but thankfully Mel found her voice and yelled “NOOOOO” and the lacrosse team saved her.
And thank goodness it was a happy ending! I couldn’t handle any more sadness in this book. I’m glad Mel overcame her depression, dealt with the issue of getting raped, and got her friends back…and her old, normal life. Anderson wrote this book fantastically! The suspense is what kept me so interested. So to say the least, I enjoyed it…even though it was so terrible what happened to her and what she had to endure for a year in isolation at her own high school.
Oh, and her lists of lies they tell you in high school were hilarious!…(mostly because they were all true!)
Ten more lies they tell you in high school:
- You will use algebra in your adult lives.
- Driving to school is a privilege and can be taken away.
- Students must stay on campus for lunch.
- The new textbooks will arrive any day now.
- Colleges care about more than your SAT score.
- We enforce the dress code.
- We will figure out how to turn off the heat soon.
- Our bus drivers are highly trained professionals.
- There is nothing wrong with summer school.
- We want to hear what you have to say.