Friday, August 30, 2013

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

4 Stars

Melinda used to be a solid “B” student with plenty of friends, but all that changed after she called the police and busted a party. Now she’s a Freshman in high school with zero friends and grades that range from mediocre to pathetic. She also doesn’t speak much. What caused Melinda to lose her voice and will she be able to get it, and everything else she has lost, back?

Wow, was this raw. I’m talking serious

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There has been a swarm, it seems, of these books with a plot of “something horrible happened to the main character and now everyone around her is being awful”. This one did it a lot better than many of the others. In fact, the “something horrible” could have actually been omitted completely and the book still would have been effective. Let’s face it, some kids are assholes. It doesn’t necessarily take a life-changing event to turn a kid from average to exile when they are entering that horrible realm of high school. The emotion was so real and the passive-aggressive bullying was completely believable. Books like these and characters like Melinda motivate me to ALWAYS keep communication lines open with my kids so they will never lose their voice.

Side note: I almost fell in love with Laurie Anderson when she wrote this: “A couple of times a day, nearly every day for the last 12 years, readers have asked me when I’ll be writing a sequel to “Speak”... Here’s the thing: most sequels suck… Sequels are too often crass attempts to make money off something that worked the first time, but without the care and attention that made the first movie or book so special…”

Then she follows with: “But despite all of that, I’m seriously thinking about writing a sequel.”

Not like Ms. Anderson needs my advice, but seriously? Don’t even f-ing THINK about it. Writing a sequel to something this powerful will automatically make you lose all credibility and become one of the money grubbers you are blasting in your first statement.


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