Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reading Rainbow: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

**SPOILER ALERT** This post contains just one spoiler - and that is what the book Speak is about. If you already know, then this won't spoil anything else for you, if not, don't read this but DO READ THE BOOK! Thanks!

I was hesitant to rec this week's book because I was thinking that most of you have read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. But then again, maybe you haven't. Maybe you've not read it because it doesn't have any vampires or werewolves or shadowhunters? Yes, I was guilty of that. Or maybe you are putting it off because of the subject matter. Personally, I tend to avoid books about rape, or that I know contain a rape scene . But, last week I finally read Speak, keeping my promise from our #SpeakLoudly give-away, and I am so happy I did.

From Goodreads:
Since the beginning of the school year, high school freshman Melinda has found that it's been getting harder and harder for her to speak out loud: "My throat is always sore, my lips raw.... Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze.... It's like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis." What could have caused Melinda to suddenly fall mute? Could it be due to the fact that no one at school is speaking to her because she called the cops and got everyone busted at the seniors' big end-of-summer party? Or maybe it's because her parents' only form of communication is Post-It notes written on their way out the door to their nine-to-whenever jobs. While Melinda is bothered by these things, deep down she knows the real reason why she's been struck mute...

I read this from two perspectives: One as a person with first-hand experience with rape. Not myself, but a very close friend in college. I won't say too much there, except that this book got a lot of details right on and brought back a lot of emotions that I'd thought I'd forgotten. And two, I read as a parent. And not just as a parent to a daughter, but also to a son. We all focus on teaching our girls how important it is to protect themselves, but it's also important to focus on teaching our boys exactly why sexual assault is so wrong.

At the end of the edition of Speak that I read, there is an interview with Laurie Halse Anderson. She said she was shocked that many young men asked her why it (sexual assault) was such a big deal to girls. (I'm paraphrasing because I've already lent my copy out.) That struck me and made me realize that we need to Speak up to our boys just as much as we do to our girls. I think every parent should read this book, and when the time is right, their children should too. (Take that Mr. Scroggins!!)

Aside from my personal feelings about Speak, I should also say that it was extremely well written and I found myself laughing, crying, shaking (with anger), and cheering. It's a book filled with memorable characters (I loved Melinda's art teacher!) and moments that I will not soon forget. I fully intend to read this book again and again.

Have you read Speak? What are your thoughts? If not, are you planning on reading?


  1. You should check out the movie. Almost word for word the same as the book. Oh, and it has Kristen Stewart in it. One of her best roles. Really good. It'll make you love the art teacher even more.

  2. I haven't read it yet, but I watched the movie (with KStew) last night and was pleased with how they handled the subject of rape. I'm in the same boat, multiple women who are close to me are rape survivors. I find that shying away from the topic isn't helping anyone. I was happy to support #Speak Loudly but didn't have time to read Speak this month - so I settled for the movie. Seeing as how the books are always better I'm looking forward to reading this one once I get the time.

  3. @Hoping4More - I completely agree with you that shying away from the topic doesn't help. And I definitely don't shy away from talking about it, but I get so uncomfortable (and sometimes angry) when a subject like rape isn't handled right - i.e. - gratuitous, excessively violent, etc. Obviously Speak didn't contain anything like that.
    And I'm going to add the movie to my netflix right now!

  4. I've seen the movie but haven't read the book. You should definitely watch it though.. I think Kristen did a wonderful job in it. I agree with Georgie, one of her best roles.

  5. I read speak earlier this month as the lucky raffle winner-THANKS Y'ALL!! And, I really was glad I was exposed to this book. The writing was just spot on and the style really was so fitting for what Melinda was experiencing during the year following the rape. And, after reading the interviews in the back and learned about the movie-it's been added ot the netflix queue!
    And, after reading the book I was even more disturbed by the op-ed piece about it being "soft core porn." Really dude? Really-that's what you want to focus on. Really? Not the months of her suffering, not the bullying that takes place, no no-just the moment(SPOILER ALERT - which isn't even detailed?!). I have to question him as a person-why is he so focused on that moment. And what kind of porn does he watch anyway? Rape porn? Snuff films? Sorry-that piece is just so frustrating.

    Back to the book though - it's a tough and scary topic for sure, but the author addressed it so well, in my opinion. And, I like that it focused on the aftermath-not the moment. I think that's what the boys who don't think it's a big deal really need to see. The moment is bad enough-but it's effect is like a slow burning fire.


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