Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is not my normal kind of book. I am not the target audience for this book. I usually dislike main characters that are oozing with teen angst. But...
I adored this book!
What's even stranger is how quickly I read it. I started halfway through the day Friday and then finished it up Tuesday evening. I put other activities to the side to I could read this book instead. That rarely happens with me. I haven't had many experiences where I couldn't put a book down, or where I read instead of doing other things. Sometimes I even have to force myself to read. But not with this book.
I was impressed with Anderson's writing. I expected a fairly typical teen, high school book, but Anderson has some chops. There were some very interesting choices, especially to show the reader the difficulties that Melinda is having throughout the book. It's almost like Melinda's problems block out the sun in portions of the novel, overshadowing everything and bringing this inescapable darkness. Like, maybe Melinda won't be able to get beyond these problems. This is also echoed by the seasons of the year and the marking periods of a year of school. The symbolism is a little obvious, but I think it would be really good for younger readers who are still learning about things like symbols (I'm looking at you my future Freshman). The symbol of the tree is the most overt but really works in this situation. I especially liked the point, towards the end, when Melinda's father trims the tree in their front yard, taking off all the dead and rotten branches that would have eventually killed the tree. MELINDA IS THE TREE! Just like LENNIE IS THE DOG! Like I said, it is fairly elementary for an experienced reader like me (if not a bit cliched), but my Freshman will eat that symbolism up. Anderson has really accomplished something with the character of Melinda. She was believable and fleshed out. I really felt like I got to know her and the way she thinks, and her arc was satisfying.
There is really so much to like about this book. If you haven't already, I would recommend giving this book a try. I mean, I liked it and I usually hate books like this.
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