Who: Laurie Halse Anderson
What: “Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” 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.” – Amazon
When: the second book of my Adolescence Literature class. Also hands down now one of my favorite books!
Where: Published in 1999, it was a way easier read then my last review of Man in the Moone. It also helps that the book is targeted and written to a younger audience, it was a breeze to get through Speak in one sitting.
Why: I really really liked this book. I already said it’s one of my new favorites but I seriously loved it. Speak is a stream of consciousness style narration and I typically don’t like this style of writing because I can hardly keep up with my own stream of consciousness, it gets in the way of trying to keep up with someone else’s as well. However, Melinda is so damn snarky and sarcastic, and I love her. I understand she’s dealing with a lot and I empathize with her when all she wants to do is curl up and sleep. It’s one of the main reasons I enjoyed this book, I genuinely felt a lot of empathy for her. I’ve never had to deal with sexual assault, I’m lucky. But I know people who have been through it and it’s hard to give advise or some how help when you can’t imagine being in their shoes – and then Speak gave me Melinda’s first hand experience of how it happened and how she reacted to it. How isolated she feels.
These are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
“We can’t be the Buccaneers because pirates supported violence and discrimination against women. The kid who suggests the Shoemakers in honor of the old moccasin factory is laughed out of the auditorium. Warriors insults Native Americans. I think Overbearing Eurocentric Patriarchs would be perfect, but I don’t suggest it.” A prefect example of her sarcasm.
“His son wanted to be a firefights, but didn’t get the job. Mr. Neck is convinced that this is some kind of reverse discrimination, He says we should close our borders so that real Americans can get the jobs they deserve. The job test said that I would be a firefighter. I wonder if I could take a job away from Mr. Neck’s son.” This just struck me as so relevant to today’s immigration debates! This book was published in 1999 and I’m honestly not sure of how the world was dealing with immigration at this time, but this same exact view of Mr. Neck is how a lot of people view immigrants.
“The next time you work on your trees, don’t think about trees. Think about love, or hate, or joy, or rage-whatever makes you feel something, makes your palms sweat or your toes curl. Focus on that feeling.” I honestly just found this quote absolutely beautiful. It’s the type of feeling I get when I write, read, am at the gym, or do yoga. Something that feels like I’m feeding my soul, just like Mr. Freeman is talking about art.