I knew of Speak and what it’s about long before it ever made it to my TBR list. Perhaps you can call it subject prejudice, but knowing why she’s speechless did not at first foster a desire to read it. When I did decide to be fair and give it a go, what I didn’t realize was how much knowing this would affect the read itself. Not that it was a spoiler per se, but for me it was.
Freshmen Melinda Sordino is doing as little talking as possible. Just weeks ago she ratted out half the school by calling the cops at the end-of-summer senior party, and no one is speaking to her. Between their 40+ hour a week jobs, her parents aren’t there to hear Melinda either. She’d retreat even farther into herself, but there’s something deep inside that she’d even like less to confront.
Most notable about Speak is Laurie Halse Anderson’s straightforward prose and well-rounded characters. In the face of clueless parents, no friends, and nothing to care about, Melinda’s courage is inspiring. Though sad, I loved the one person who was (sort of) in her life – lab partner David Petrakis. Unfortunately there are too many Heathers – friends of convenience/users – in this world. I also loved that art class and that quest to capture a tree.
Unfortunately, (and this is no real fault of the book) I wasn’t as compelled by the story as I’d hoped. While some of it was due to overly-high expectations, I think most of it was because I knew Melinda’s secret, and I found myself waiting for the pieces to reveal and emerge without a lot of suspense. As a result the pages didn’t turn as urgently as I would’ve liked. But no one can deny the empowerment of that moment when Melinda finds her voice. I will definitely be checking out Anderson’s other books.