Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review - Speak by Laurie Anderson

As I feel bloggers know the summary already I chose to post this from a site called Commonsense Media

What Parents Need to Know

This review of Speak was written by Norah Caroline Piehl

Parents need to know that this National Book Award finalist is about a girl traumatized by a rape (and is then isolated from her peers). Wounded, silent Melinda ditches class, steals passes from teachers, and deliberately cuts herself. Accurate descriptions of the minutiae of high school will appeal to any teen who has felt like an outsider, and when Melinda is finally able to speak, readers will rejoice in her triumphs. This is a gritty, powerful book that teachers and parents could use to launch a number of discussions.  Readers must meld short descriptive passages to form the narrative.

Why I read Speak

1)  I don't understand how anyone has the power or audacity to Ban a book and this one gets a ton of coverage during Ban book week, I wanted to understand what the fuss was all about.

2)  I keep track in my Librarything account who I take recommendations from, I added Speak to my Wishlist after reading the review of Samantha from Booked On a Feeling.

3)  It is highly recommended by young adults and adults (Note, I am not a huge fan of YA)

4)  It helps with a Challenge but really 1 & 2 are the reason.

My Review - 3 More Sugar Please

I would recommend this to moms of daughters between 12 - 18, I think it will be a brilliant book to read together and discuss.

I have a hard time believing Melinda's parents and teachers do not get her help and know obviously something happened for this behaviour to start.  Doesn't everyone know the signs of trauma?  I felt like many of them were having adult tantrums instead of strategizing how to help, it just didn't feel real life to me.

What was fabulous in the book was the genuine voice of Melinda.  Laurie Anderson did an amazing job with her.  She made me smile, sigh, roll my eyes, cheer her on and feel sorry for her.  The toxic emotion she held inside her was brutal and killing her softly.  I loved how the use of creating a tree in Art class was used, very insightful.  It was a sad story but nicely written.

My favourite scene in the book, (not a spoiler), is in the bathroom stall, the start and follow up, great real life therapy.

Why was this book banned?  I am totally dumbfounded, did I miss the bad words, the violence, what did I miss, sigh. The language was definitely relevant teenager language.

Overall it just didn't fully grab me, I read a couple of pages here and there, even considered not reading it.  I can see how many can read this in one go, it was just to youngish for me.  I will definitely share with my friends that have teenage daughters though.  I agree it is an important book to share for them.


  1. Great review. Like you, for its technical/literary merit, I would give it about 3 stars. But because it is an important book that I think teens and parents could benefit from, I would give it a 5 just for the message behind it.

  2. I picked it up for the same reasons. I wanted to know what the fuss is about. Who knows why books get banned? It's ridiculous really, in my opinion.I found it to be very honest and true to life for young girls. Anderson has an amazing talent for capturing that.

    On a side note, i just reviewed a great mystery author you might like. Marcus Sakey? heard of him! He's good.!!

    Take care

  3. I'm one blogger who never heard of this book before. After reading your review, I now know what it is about anyway.

  4. I read this for the same reason and for the life of me I could not see why. It's actually one of the tamer YA books I've read when it came to sex and language.
    As for the parents, sadly I had many friends with parents like this so it rang a little truer to me.

  5. Sorry this didn't fully grab you, but I loved it. I felt like Melinda's parents chalked her behavior up to the teenage years.

  6. Another great review for this book. I have this on my tbrlist and I am going to read this very soon. I only read Wintergirls by this author and thought that it was very graphic, but very good. I wonder if I will like this one too. :)

  7. This book can be so incredibly helpful for teens (or anyone) who has gone through similar trauma, but I understand how it didn't completely pull you in.

    When I read it, I was a high school sophomore, so I was 15. Then, the book changed my life. Not because I had experienced anything similar, but because I felt so connected to Melinda and her voice.

    If I read it now, I might see it more the way you had, but the message is still there and I appreciate Laurie getting it out there for anyone who needs it.

  8. Awesome review. Sounds like it would be perfect for any high school girl.

  9. I agree. While I don't like reading some YA literature. Some books I consider must reads.

  10. I was pretty irate at Melinda's parents too, but I wasn't too surprised that they barely noticed her withdrawal. I guess it's because I'm familiar with an environment where parents don't know their children well, esp once the children reach the teen years. For instance, most Asian families are built like that. But this being American, it was certainly surprising once I heard someone voice that concern. Tragic certainly.

  11. I'm glad that you liked this one even if you didn't enjoy it as much as I did. I think that this is a book to be discussed with young adults, not banned and it made me a huge fan of this author. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  12. I bought Speak last year for Banned Books Week, but didn't get to read it, since my middle daughter "borrowed" it and it hasn't made it's way back to my house yet. As a mom of girls, well, I know that my own girls (except for the youngest), changed dramatically when they hit their teens. It seems realistic that the parents and teachers might have put it off as the "crazy teen" syndrome. My youngest daughter said that they read it in school, and she liked it. The reason it was banned is because a minister described it as pornographic (which ... hmmm ... unless you're a very sick person to begin with, rape is not pornography). Thanks for the review! Hopefully, it will make it's way back to my house soon for a read!

  13. I read this one a few weeks ago. I would think that her parents at the very least would see the change and seek help. I have no idea why this book is banned. It's not graphic or anything, and even then, I don't believe in banning a book.


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