by Laurie Halse Anderson
Our Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5 out of 5 stars)
Reviewed by: Rachel Maggard
Melinda is starting her freshman year of high school as an outcast. Her former best friend and, in fact, entire friend group now hates her. To make matters worse, she is suffering significant trauma from something that happened to her over the summer. As the reader, you are not exactly sure what happened to Melinda. And it seems no one in the story knows what happened to her, either. But she is a very likable character and you can’t help but be on her side.
The story begins on the first day of school. Melinda is wishing with all of her might that she will find someone, anyone, who will sit by her or talk to her or be a friend to her. She soon comes to realize that all of her classes are more than she can handle except art class. Her art teacher and a few students in the art room come to be her saving grace. As the story continues to unfold, you find out the horrific crime committed against Melinda. And despite the extremely difficult subject matter, the story is written with humour and hope. You come to believe that Melinda may very well find the strength to speak.
Laurie Halse Anderson is a prolific writer and it all began with this debut novel. I believe that despite the dark and difficult subjects in this story, it is a wonderful book that would be a superb read for teens and adults. It would definitely create great discussion matter. I have seen Anderson’s books on many of our shelves at the library and this one, being a National Book Award Finalist, caught my attention. It is the first I have read from this author but it will not be the last. You can find Speak on Libby as well as many of Laurie Halse Anderson’s other novels.