Saturday, 19 March 2011

Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson

I read this book a couple of years ago; I was probably about 12/13. I had bought this book when it was on sale and I liked the sound of it. At the time, I didn't like it - I didn't understand most of the words in it and what was happening and felt rather disappointed. That is why I was apprehensive about reading it again and not liking it - again.
I think as a 12/13 year old -  I just didn't understand what was happening and that things like this do happen.
This is my review of it but also a bit of context to those that aren't in secondary school/high school now.

Synopsis: Melina has started high school on an all time low. Her best friends don't want to know her. Everyone hates her for something she did because she was scared over the summer. She has no-one, even she can't talk to her parents without a fight happening as they are on the verge of separation. Why?
Over the summer, Melina called the police at an illegal party where there was alcohol because she got raped by a Senior. A Senior that won't let her forget and it making her mute. This novel follows Melina over her first year of high school which can make or break you and how she overcomes and tries desparately to beat her silence.

Review: If you read this, not knowing at all what high school/secondary school is like, you will probably think Laurie Halse Anderson is exaggerating her descriptions just to get a good story. Although, she maybe in some parts, me, the sixteen year old and in my last year at secondary school after some 5 years there, think it's pretty accurate.

She is successfully made Melina sound and behave like someone her age (14) would. She is such a beautifully written character with an interesting voice. There are some laugh-out-loud moments in this book at the hilarious descriptions of her teachers e.g. her Spanish teacher's wild hand actions after stating she will not speak English in class for the entire year (which fails in about a lesson). And then, Melina's sarcasm which I must admit, sounds a lot like the kind I use. However, there are parts which you will find sad and really feel for Melina.

I just want to write a bit about how it relates, I think it's important. Over my 5 years at my secondary school/high school, I have had 5 friendship groups (about one per year) and had arguments with the majority of them, I have been 'popular' (that's a term I use loosely) for about a year in my first year there before I had an argument with them for being 'different'. I have been called 'anorexic' countless of times because of my height, high metabolism and how thin I am (which I hate sometimes). I've been called 'langy', 'too perfect', 'a bitch', 'ugly' and a 'neek' (too clever basically). So I kinda understand the whole name calling thing in the book. Although, some of those are very 'rude' words to call someone, at school, you can't take offence to them, otherwise you'd probably be called something else. Sure, at home, I could cry and be affected by it to my heart's content but at school, in public, just talking across the playground or talking to a guy would make people notice you. It doesn't happen so much now because we all know each other but I see Facebook statuses from the younger years and girls crying in corridors all because they are known as a slut or slag. To be honest, take it in your stride.
Like the other day, I was walking along calmly, stopped to talk to my friend and then a girl in the year below elbowed through and then turned to me and said 'Oh my god, get out the way you fat idiot' and then walked off. I laughed. Nice of her, don't you think? I would go on but I don't want you to get bored.

Anyway, the novel really does show a pretty accurate image of high school/secondary school. The characters are well written and all completely different and are the sterotypical types of cliques you see in a school. This is so worth a read, even if in some places it is banned (for some unknown reason) in some places. I think it's because it's such a head on view of rape and bullying instead of kind of scooting around the main details to make it okay for teenagers to read. I'm sorry but if you read about rape and sex in a negative way, that means you're going to do it? Sure...
Have a look for more of her stuff...this book is definitely worth all the hype you see about it.

I give it a 4 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 230
Publisher: Hodder
Challenges: None


  1. Cool post! I love reading your reviews! I follow you on twitter, and I noticed you have The Luxe in your profile pic. I was thinking of buying that book, or Bright Young Things. Would you reccomend it? What age group is it for? x

  2. oh thank you very much. I'm glad you like them, makes me feel great about blogging.
    Oh yeah, I've read the whole series. I read them when I was about 14. I would definitely recommend the series. Probably for those maybe 13 or higher? Read that series then Bright Young Things - it works better.

    I have a review for Bright Young Things on here too. Thanks again! :) x

  3. My high school is surprisingly nice (I say this almost in a shocked manner) so I find it difficult to relate to these high-school clique-like groups in books, but like you have said, it's true and it happens, and it is importnat to (I dunno, well, I feel this way) remember that in 5 years it won't really matter and to not let mean people bring you down. I loved Speak so much, and this review rocks!

  4. This is one of those books that I really wanted to check out from my library and never return (the fear of late fees kept me from doing it!) because Speak is written so well and Melina's voice made me cry - even during re-reads (but that's what any good book should do, keep you emotionally attached even when you know the story by heart). The movie with Kristen Stewart is really good (also, it features Michael Angarano, big-time eye-candy in my opinion).

    While my high school wasn't anything as extreme as what LHA describes, it absolutely rings a bell. At my school things weren't really as up-front, but the clique-thing was extreme in other ways. Simply refusing to take part in the system didn't quite work, but forming a "clique that doesn't care about cliques" sort of did the trick.

    Even though the "It gets better" campaign is about non-conform sexuality and gender identities, all I can say is that once you leave school, it DOES get better, AND worse, depending on where you go. I know that my mom was unfortunate enough to land jobs several times, where the clique-mindset continued, while my internships are very much free from it.

    Um yeah, long comment, better stop now xD

  5. I'm fifteen and I'm ina a secondary school and I know for my experience that's actual my first year in Secondary School was horrible I went back to my home crying, I was alone but now I've got some friends and I'm happy.
    PD: I'm from Spain and if you need that someone help you with your spanish class, I might hepl you through my blog

  6. Audrey: Thank you. Yeah I know it will but I have about 3 more years of education left so I'm not going to get out of it for a while yet.

    Nessie: ooo eye-candy. I'm going to watch it on youtube soon...maybe today even. Yeah I think in the whole clique thing, I am either in the 'I don't care about these clique things' or 'The Smart Crazy ones'. I prefer the latter really.

    Rose: yeah I found the first couple of years are the worst. You don't know anyone and it seems so daughting. I had one kind of friend when I went to my secondary school and I didn't get on with her. My best friends went to the local all girls school when I went to the mixed one. That's good and I am too :)
    I'll have a look at the blog but I don't do or know much Spanish. Only hello from holidays. :)

  7. I really enjoyed this book and it's one of my favorites because it has a good storyline and it kept my interest throught the book. I liked the way it was written. It has many short chapters written in first person point of view by Melinda Sordino; the main character. The vocabulary is very descriptive and you see the world from Melinda's point of view. She is a character i felt i could relate to very easily. Also the author builds up to the climax and doesn't give away too much until about the middle of the book. I would definately recommend this book to young teens, or really just anyone who enjoys a good read

  8. You have a nice review! Here's mine: Have a nice day!

  9. I would definitely recommend this book. It was a fantastic read and it is something I would find myself reading again. Touching, moving to the core of your inner being. chool. It was a actually a great book, which is unusual when you are forced to read it at school.

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