Friday, August 2, 2013

Snapshot Book Review: Speak

SpeakSpeak 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?

Me: Nothing

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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1 comment:

any how town said...

Ah, you've finally read Speak ;-) Actually, I had the opportunity to teach this book after it soon came out while I was student teaching. I was working in an all-girls school on the south side of Chicago. Let me just say, that in a class where not everyone particularly liked to read, every single girl finished that novel and many of them finished it far ahead of schedule. In terms of truly engaging the teen voice and world, I agree that Anderson does an excellent job. I was glad to see that this is on the curriculum in Pittsburgh Public Schools as well. I'm glad to see that school systems are bridging the ol' white guys with more modern and adolescent relevant fare.