Thursday, July 1, 2010


I had heard about Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson when it came out, but being an older young adult at the time, thought I was way to mature for it. :)

What's interesting is that I probably liked the book more now then I would have then. I think my 17-year-old self wouldn't have been very understanding of why Melinda stays quiet. I can't imagine not telling everything to the cops, my parents, everyone. I would have yelled at her for not standing up for herself. And I think that would have clouded my view of the book. I still feel that way now, but I'm much more understanding than I used to be. I also realize now how young 13 is and how someone of that age wouldn't stand up for themselves, especially if they aren't taught to do so. When you're younger, you tend to assume everyone grew up the same as you did, even though you know that's not true. My family so stressed standing up for yourself that I never thought to do otherwise. Whether it was standing up to second grade teacher about the assignments she gave me (which were the same ones I'd done in first grade) or today standing up to my now former boss and telling her she can't treat people the way she does, I've never had a problem speaking up. When I served on a jury a few years ago in a sexual assault case, I didn't have any problems sending the guy to jail with the maximum sentence. And I was the one to convince the on the fence jurors to do so too. Obviously those examples aren't the same as what happens in the book, and I don't mean to minimize what happens to her. And I've learned that many people aren't taught to stand up for themselves. They're taught only to obey authority, to stay quiet and out of trouble. And since Melinda's parents seem to be the type of people who would rather ignore a problem than solve it, it's no wonder she stays quiet.

I also think I would have been annoyed with Anderson's writing style as a teen. I was not a fan of modernism/post-modernism even back then, and just wrote off anyone who wrote that way at all. Although I'm still not a big fan, I appreciate those styles more now and something like Speak is just fine with me now, and I get that it works well for the story. I think the style probably speaks better to her target audience, I was just weird about things like that.

Overall, I did enjoy Speak, and it's a very quick read.

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