RELEASED: October 22, 1999
PUBLISHER: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
GENRE: YA Contemporary
GOODREADS RATING: 4.01
TRIGGERS: Rape, harassment, depression
REPS: Rape victim
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.
I’m a survivor. I was raped ten years ago and have survived it. Mentally, physically. It’s something that never quite disappears completely and.. in a way I’m glad for it. It’s made me stronger, it’s made me who I am today. This is the reason I read books about rape, about survivors and.. this time is no different. Speak is the story of a girl trying to survive the trauma she endured and this.. this is my “review”.
“Review” because I honestly can’t say a bad thing about this book. Stories like this one are important to tell. It shows us that surviving is possible. It’s hard and.. we’re often misunderstood, or ignored even, but there’s always a small light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to find a way to get closer to it. This is a story about trying to do just that.
To say this is an intense story is an understatement. The message is clear: you’re not alone. The way it’s conveyed? Felt unique in a way. The writing is the biggest cause for that. Laurie Halse Anderson uses punctuation to put even more meaning into her writing. Using more, or less, punctuation marks makes you read faster, read slower. Makes you crawl into our main character’s skin even more than you’re already doing.
That made it both a special and very hard experience for me, but I can’t help but loving it anyway. I’m reminded, once again, that talking about being raped is a good thing. It still happens every day and you should know it’s okay to talk about it. To speak.
I connected with this story in both the best and worst possible way. And I loved it.
What book reminds you of certain things you had to learn along the way of life?
If you decide to read this, make sure you’re in the right head space!