Saturday, 19 March 2011
Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
I think as a 12/13 year old - I just didn't understand what was happening and that things like this do happen.
This is my review of it but also a bit of context to those that aren't in secondary school/high school now.
Synopsis: Melina has started high school on an all time low. Her best friends don't want to know her. Everyone hates her for something she did because she was scared over the summer. She has no-one, even she can't talk to her parents without a fight happening as they are on the verge of separation. Why?
Over the summer, Melina called the police at an illegal party where there was alcohol because she got raped by a Senior. A Senior that won't let her forget and it making her mute. This novel follows Melina over her first year of high school which can make or break you and how she overcomes and tries desparately to beat her silence.
Review: If you read this, not knowing at all what high school/secondary school is like, you will probably think Laurie Halse Anderson is exaggerating her descriptions just to get a good story. Although, she maybe in some parts, me, the sixteen year old and in my last year at secondary school after some 5 years there, think it's pretty accurate.
She is successfully made Melina sound and behave like someone her age (14) would. She is such a beautifully written character with an interesting voice. There are some laugh-out-loud moments in this book at the hilarious descriptions of her teachers e.g. her Spanish teacher's wild hand actions after stating she will not speak English in class for the entire year (which fails in about a lesson). And then, Melina's sarcasm which I must admit, sounds a lot like the kind I use. However, there are parts which you will find sad and really feel for Melina.
I just want to write a bit about how it relates, I think it's important. Over my 5 years at my secondary school/high school, I have had 5 friendship groups (about one per year) and had arguments with the majority of them, I have been 'popular' (that's a term I use loosely) for about a year in my first year there before I had an argument with them for being 'different'. I have been called 'anorexic' countless of times because of my height, high metabolism and how thin I am (which I hate sometimes). I've been called 'langy', 'too perfect', 'a bitch', 'ugly' and a 'neek' (too clever basically). So I kinda understand the whole name calling thing in the book. Although, some of those are very 'rude' words to call someone, at school, you can't take offence to them, otherwise you'd probably be called something else. Sure, at home, I could cry and be affected by it to my heart's content but at school, in public, just talking across the playground or talking to a guy would make people notice you. It doesn't happen so much now because we all know each other but I see Facebook statuses from the younger years and girls crying in corridors all because they are known as a slut or slag. To be honest, take it in your stride.
Like the other day, I was walking along calmly, stopped to talk to my friend and then a girl in the year below elbowed through and then turned to me and said 'Oh my god, get out the way you fat idiot' and then walked off. I laughed. Nice of her, don't you think? I would go on but I don't want you to get bored.
Anyway, the novel really does show a pretty accurate image of high school/secondary school. The characters are well written and all completely different and are the sterotypical types of cliques you see in a school. This is so worth a read, even if in some places it is banned (for some unknown reason) in some places. I think it's because it's such a head on view of rape and bullying instead of kind of scooting around the main details to make it okay for teenagers to read. I'm sorry but if you read about rape and sex in a negative way, that means you're going to do it? Sure...
Have a look for more of her stuff...this book is definitely worth all the hype you see about it.
I give it a 4 out of 5
Author's Website: http://madwomanintheforest.com/