Thursday, May 25, 2006

49. "Speak" ~ Laurie Halse Anderson

Class, this is an example of a young adult novel written correctly.

As soon as those words formed in my head, I cringed. What is correct? It's all aesthetics and personal. Then I remembered that this is my blog, I'm the one buying the drinks around here, therefore what I say shall reign supreme.


Poor Melinda is scorned and shunned by her classmates (sound familiar?) after she calls the police and busts a summer party. Between friend angst, family drama, and academic irritations, Melinda is having a terrible year.

Like Prep, there are the class distinctions. Similarly, the school year is plotted by dances and Valentine's Day flowers. While plodding for adults to read, we must remember that this is how many of us counted our days.

The difference between the two books, and, perhaps, the easiest way to express my feelings, is in the writing. While the protagonists are similar - pathetic, depressed girls - in the same situations - schools, public vs. prep - the writing in Speak is phenomonally better. It's the difference between stabbing someone with a plastic fork and a razor blade. For example, after a feeble attempt at self-injury:

"I open up a paper clip and scratch it across the inside of my left wrist. Pitiful. If a suicide attempt is a cry for help, then what is this? A whimper, a peep? I draw little windowcracks of blood, etching line after line until it stops hurting. It looks like I arm-wrestled a rosebush.

"Mom sees the wrist at breakfast.

"Mom: 'I don't have time for this, Melinda.'


"She says suicide is for cowards. This is an uglynasty Momside. She bought a book about it. Tough love. Sour sugar. Barbed velvet. Silent talk. She leaves the book on the back of the toilet to educate me. She has figured out that I don't say too much. It bugs her."

3.5 out of 5.0 Roy Rogers.

1 comment:

Wesley said...

Hello I’m the moderator for the Laurie Halse Anderson Official Fan Club. The Fan Club just started so if you would like feel free to become a member. It’s free, and all you have to do is become a Yahoo! member (also Free). If your a member of Y (or if you become a member) just go here:
and hit the light blue “Join This Group” button to the right hand side.

I look forward to seeing you there. :)