It’d have been much more preferable to have read this book and written my review, in my own sweet time, but then some moron called Scroggins got on his soap-box to spew his bile, and I knew it was time to slip it off the bookshelves and just get it read.
Because, while I’m neither a teen nor a resident of Republic, and even though #speakingloudly is totally necessary, the best way to get back at these types has to do exactly what they are trying to stop. And that’s read.
So read I did.
I’ve made a point recently of trying to write my own synopsis as part of my reviews, but I think that’s probably a little redundant this week as most people will already know what this book is about, so I am just going to use the cover blurb.
From her first moment at Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she’s an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops – a major infraction in high-school society – so her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t know glare at her.
No one knows why she called the police, and she can’t get out the words to explain. So she retreats into her head, where the lies and hypocrisies of high school stand in stark relief to her own silence. But it’s not so comfortable in her head, either – there’s something banging around in there that she doesn’t want to think about. But, try as she might, it just won’t go away…
Now, to start the review the way I normally would have.
It was this review by Natasha at the Maw Books Blog that first brought Speak and Laurie Halse Anderson to my attention, and made it a book I knew I wanted to read, and subsequent mentions and reviews spotted elsewhere only cemented that thought.
I’m so glad I saw that initial review, as this was a wonderfully powerful read. Touching and painful as Melinda slowly sinks further into her depression, and the same again as she starts to climb out of it. It’s not a story with a feel good ending, but that is entirely the point, and why books that deal with difficult and hard issues are so important. And why choice needs to be there.
There’s a huge difference between, things being there for shock value or titillation, and things being there because they have to be, and any halfway intelligent person can spot the difference. Unless of course you choose to cherry pick s passages out of context, and not actually you know, read the book…
The thing is. The most shocking thing about the book, isn’t the snarky comments about the cheerleaders scoring ability, or even the rape scene (which is depicted with great care by Halse Anderson) it’s that Melinda didn’t feel able to speak up in the first place and the ‘world’ that allowed that to happen.
That’s what’s shocking. And heartbreaking. And distressing.
The fact that Melinda is such a likeable, sarcastic and at times funny, teenager, with an inner strength that she probably doesn’t realise, does nothing to alter that, only makes it more so.
Readers can relate to her, find their own strength in her, and if one person can find what the need to speak out then the book does it’s job (and it quite clearly does, as the video I’ll post at the end of this review, featuring the author, reading a poem, inspired by letters she has received, quite clearly and movingly proves)
It may have been Natasha, that put this book firmly on my TBR pile, sorry Natasha, but my thanks must go to Mr Scroggins for making me read it.