Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Again I'm ignoring my promised books to review. Instead, I'm reviewing Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, because of the Wesley Scroggins incident that has authors and readers 'speaking loudly'.
I read Speak roughly a month ago, due to great reviews of it from friends and on the internet. Also because it was a Printz Award honor book, and I always find myself fond of Printz Award winners.

The blurb of Speak reads:
Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that's not safe. Because there's something she's trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth.

So Speak begins as Melinda starts the school year friendless, alone, and depressed. She has a highly disfunctional family, literally no friends, and thus no one to talk to. She rarely even speaks.

Throughout the narration of Melinda's bleak days at school and home, she lets on in flashbacks the events that lead up to her current state of friendlessness. She broke up a party the year before when she called the cops. The people who despise her for doing so have no idea that she was, in fact, raped at that party.

Melinda initially refuses to speak up about her abuse, and suffers through seeing the rapist at school day after day, being constantly reminded of it. Eventually, she speaks up.

Speak is a story that many girls could relate to. Every two minutes, someone in the USA is sexually assaulted. Forty-four percent of those people are women under the age of 18. It's common for rape victims to not speak up about their ordeal. Speak is an inspiring story for anyone; but specifically for those women, it encourages them to speak out.

Scroggins' opinion piece calls for censorship of this book, calling it "soft pornography" because of the two rape scenes it features. That label alone is both invalid and horrible. Pornography is designed to incite sexual excitement - to imply that rape is at all exciting for the victim is just plain sick.

Other authors targetted by Scroggins - such as Sarah Ockler, author of Twenty Boy Summer - and readers are Speaking Loudly against Scroggins' piece and against censorship. Both Saundra Mitchell and CJ Redwine, favorite authors of mine, have Spoken Loudly on their blogs, in brilliant fashion (Mitchell's post here, and Redwine's here).

Speak is a book everyone should be able to read. Censorship stands in the way of that - it decides for you what you can and cannot read. I give Speak a 5/5.


Espana said...

This book was depressing and cold, but also heartwarming. I liked it because it was mysterious and described a typical and unique teenage life. This story was about a freshman girl who got raped during a party after getting drunk. She called the cops and ran away. When school starts, she has no friends and is treated like an outcast. In the beginning of the plot, Melinda tries to ignore the memory, but faces the truth at the end of the story.

Loraine said...

You have a nice review! Here's mine: Have a nice day!

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