Sanrock Reviews

looking at things from a literary viewpoint

Speak Review

I’m not one to read books that read like a Lifetime original movie. In fact, the only reason I would is if I was forced to in school or I thought the book was going to be something else.

Of course, there is one exception to the rule. That exception is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I came about this book from an thread (I don’t remember where. In fact, it’s been deleted.) The part about the teacher being a total American patriotic idiot and the whole class getting on him is what made me read it. So, let’s dive in. 

Speak is about a high school girl named Melinda who is having a terrible year. Her best friend or years has stopped talking to her, everyone in school tries to avoid her and she has become a complete shut in. Eventually she finds the courage to talk about what really happened at a party that has caused all this negativity to happen.

That may be the plot, but the book focuses more on what happens in Melinda’s every day life including school. We see all her teachers who are each weird in their own way. The two that stand out the most are the art teacher and the history teacher. The art teacher does not believe in giving grades for somebody being artistic so he just gives everyone As. The history teacher is one of those super patriotic Americans who says he can trace his family tree to the Mayflower. He also doesn’t like foreigners very much.

These characters are basically a ploy in creating an actual story. And surprisingly it succeeds. All these characters are interesting in their own right. The goofiness of them are there to say “hey, remember these types of people in high school?” This stems from strong writing and characterization which make for a much more interesting read.

When we do get to Melinda’s trouble it will hit home. How she acts does not feel in any way emo or unnatural. We have  either acted like her or knew someone like her in high school. Why she’s like that may seem like a cop out to some, but once you think about it it’s a lot more common than you think. *SPOILERS* She got raped at the party by someone she trusted*SPOILERS*

After all that, yes it does read like a Lifetime original movie but it’s a well written and engaging one. I highly recommend it not as an English teacher would recommend a book, but as someone who rarely sees gold in anything (this coming from a guy who loves Battle Pug.) It it a try and you will be just as surprised as I was.


Categories: Novels

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