Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Anderson does a great job capturing the internal voice of 9th grade Melinda. I especially love the way she does dialogue and makes up nicknames for the other characters. For instance, there's a teacher she refers to as Mr. Neck. If she and Mr. Neck were conversing, it would go something like:
Mr. Neck: What are you doing in here?
Mr. Neck: Doesn't look like nothing.
Leaving that blank in lieu of writing something like "I don't respond" is brilliant, especially in a book where the point is that Melinda cannot seem to speak up for herself.
I will admit, from the outset I did know what the Big Secret was, but because it was so predictable, I'm glad that Anderson didn't drag out the process of revealing it. She gets it into the first half of the book without too much fanfare, and we the readers are left to focus on what really matters: Melinda's coping mechanisms; her relationships with fellow students, former friends, and teachers; her family dynamic; etc. I also really like the fact that while there is clearly a romantic interest between Melinda and her lab partner, it doesn't ever blossom into a full subplot and, consequently, threaten to take over the focus of the novel.
The ending, too, was predictable (you know there's another confrontation coming between her and IT), but I don't think it could have ended any other way.
Now, I really just want to see the art teacher's mural. Come on fan fiction artists!
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