Review a Book with Sariah Cook

I'm in LOVE with reading. My favorites to read are romance novels or series, and poetry. These book reviews are for my senior project, but I plan to continue this book blog afterwards.

A Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson

4.5 stars for this 1999 novel by Laurie Anderson because it’s written so well that reading it in 2020, you can’t even tell by the style or story that it was written over 20 years beforehand. The story of Melinda is heartbreaking, and one of learning to overcome sexual violence and the loss of every friend you thought you had. Being able to watch her reach her lowest point and come back up from it, and then learning to understand and accept what happened to her is an astonishing read.


It's written a lot like a personal diary, so you can see through her eyes and thoughts during her freshman year of high school. She'll tell you about "IT" and about the friends she lost and the ones she gained, as well as her parents and the teachers that made a difference. She considers herself the “outcast” of the school because of the way everyone treats her after she called the cops at the big party before school started. In Melinda’s defense, she had just suffered from a traumatic experience at this party, and she felt lost and confused and reacted to her mind’s urge to seek help.


This story hit close to home because while reading her story, it reminded me a lot of the years where I hit my lowest points and had to come back up from those, around the same time Melinda was facing hers. Although my personal experiences were very different from hers, I can understand her when she feels so lost and alone and seeks comfort in sleeping away the pain and the confusion.  On her way back up, she understands what happened to her that night at the horrible party, and she confides in a past friend about this with the purpose to protect her from this certain guy, the “IT.” Even though it doesn’t go the way she was hoping it would, Melinda begins to feel a weight lift from her shoulders.


*SPOILER* The climax of this story is at the very end, when it’s the end of the school year and Melinda is cleaning out the abandoned school janitorial closet that she spent much of her time isolating herself inside. This is when “IT” finds her here and locks them inside before he attacks her. She tries to fight back but he’s much stronger than her, while cursing and degrading her. But then Melinda finds her voice, and she screams. And she screams and she fights back, and she breaks the mirror on the wall that she hid underneath a poster of Maya Angelou. She grabs a broken shard of class and holds it to his neck, cutting him slightly, and rendering him powerless while people who heard her scream come running to her rescue. She won.


If there was anything I could change or improve about this story, I would want to put more emphasis of her art project into her story. The item she chose at random was a Tree, with which she had to create any form of art that resembled her object by the end of the year. She struggles with this assignment throughout the year but ends up turning in her final project on the last day, finding inspiration through everything she had overcome. I believe this project had an important connection to her story of growth and strength, but I do wish it was shown more throughout the story, rather than implied or left to be connected by the readers. It is written well the way it is, but it took me awhile to make the connection.


I would recommend Melinda’s story to reader’s everywhere, because it’s a story that changes you. It inspires you, and connects with you on a real level, no matter who you are or when you read her story.

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