Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Forced into more.

Title:  Speak
Author:  Laurie Halse Anderson

The Dish:  Outcast.  Loser.  Freak.  These are terms that are always familiar with the ostracized teens in high school, those that everyone else seems to shun entirely for some reason.  Melinda Sordino is one such teen at her high school, cast out of the crowd because of calling the police at a party over the summer.  Those who were her friends have dropped her entirely while everyone else whispers about her, thinking she's a loser in breaking up the party.  But there was a reason Melinda called the police...a reason that she just cannot admit to, not even herself and thus locks her voice away. 

Everyone has seen something similar to this situation.  Someone is treated poorly for a shallow reason whether that person doesn't wear the "right" clothes or doesn't look the "right" way or doesn't behave in the "right" manner.  The person's peers either look upon them with scorn or don't even bother looking at them, let alone notice them.  That is Melinda's life in high school, and Anderson captures that high school mentality so very well in Speak.  Melinda has to go through all of the scorn and the lack of sympathy from her peers and even her former best friend.  And the teachers are really just a presence of authority as they don't take notice of how Melinda is treated, though there is that one teacher, Mr. Freeman, that seems to get it.  

What I found intriguing in the overall story was the journal style in which Anderson writes through Melinda.  There are no set chapters, instead it is written in pieces throughout the different high school terms starting with the fall term.  This makes Melinda and those she writes about in her day-to-day life all the more realistic and much more empathizing.  It feels somewhat like a tragic triumph when she finally confronts those who have shunned her and when she is able to tell her story to the one who seems to understand her.  Sadly, the realism that Anderson has written into this story is all too real, and though that makes the story even more powerful, it is also a sign of how important such a text like Speak is to both teens and adults.  As one of the most challenged books of its time due to controversial subject matter involving adolescent issues, I feel that as a librarian and a reader it is a book that needs to be read now more than ever.  

What banned/challenged books speak to you and why do you think they are challenged?


  1. I am fond of all banned books because I believe that it was written for a reason. There is that girl out there who needs to know that someone gets her. There is the gay teen who needs to know he is not alone. When people try to supress these ideas and words they make the world just a bit dimmer.

  2. Amen to that, Karen. Banned books are the ones people need to read the most.


Thank you for visiting. :) I do appreciate any and all comments received and try to reply as soon as I can. Happy reading!

Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Amazing Snowland kit by Irene Alexeeva