Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Hodder Childrens Books
Publication Date: 20 Mar 2008
Synopsis: From Amazon
From her first moment at Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she's an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops - a major infraction in high-school society - so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know glare at her. No one knows why she called the police, and she can't get out the words to explain. So she retreats into her head, where the lies and hypocrisies of high school stand in stark relief to her own silence. But it's not so comfortable in her head, either - there's something banging around in there that she doesn't want to think about. But, try as she might, it just won't go away...
Phew, this was a really hard read for me. So emotional on a multitude of levels, taking into account the subject matter I found this particular scenario totally scary as I have 3 daughters and the oldest is only a few years younger than Melinda in this book.
Written in first person narrative from Melinda's point of view. The reader is dropped into the middle of something but is not made aware of exactly what has happened until later in the story. From the beginning we establish that Melinda is isolated due to an event that has occurred within the last few months.
I have to say I did not find Melinda particularly like-able at the beginning, before the story unfolded, due to her complete lack of enthusiasm for anything, I found her hard to relate to, which I guess is part of the point. The events leading up to this point and her current emotional state are revealed slowly..
The omnipresent cliques are portrayed in unnerving accuracy. These stereotypes dominate events throughout life not just in school. We are shown through the narrative that people will always believe what they want to, not necessarily the truth. There are always two sides to a story although it is rarely acknowledged. People always side with the popular clique and don't bother asking questions that would upset the status quo.
Plot teasers are placed throughout the narrative making the reader imagine the worst case scenario. I found the reference to book banning totally ironic in light of recent events.
The imagery was very powerful making the tension palpable from between the lines. The narrative contained terrific use of metaphor to convey the isolation and desolation that Melinda felt.
I was left speechless at the relationship that Melinda had with her parents. I just could not relate to that at all. Leaving her to fend for herself most of the time, so caught up in their own lives/work to fully understand their own child. This part was very difficult for me and made me self-analyze my relationship with my children. I could not understand how they did not know something was the matter and deal with it. Especially when it came to the falling grades and lack of enthusiasm, I would like to think I would pick up that there was a deeper problem if it was one of my children. It made me feel as if they did not really care for her at all.
When Melinda eventually admits the true problem, she is shunned at first. Adding to her feeling of anguish. It is only following another frightening event that the truth is revealed; lifting the burden from Melinda. I would have liked to have seen how the truth was dealt with; the reactions of her family and friends etc.
The message behind this story is quite simple: SPEAK out. If nothing is ever said about being bullying and worse then how are we as a population supposed to stop it. You have to think, would you want other people to suffer the same as you have. SPEAK!!!!!!
Don't forget to check out Fluttering Butterflies giveaway to win a copy of Speak for yourself.