"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Monday, December 6, 2010

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Summary: Melinda has told no one about her rape, and can hardly bear to speak in high school. 

The summer before her freshman year starts, Melinda is raped by a popular athlete in high school. Melinda calls the cops, but can't actually say the words. The cops come anyway and break up the party.

Now that the school year has started, Melinda has no friends, and no parental support. Oblivious parents seem to be a common element in Anderson's books.

Melinda functions in high school, just barely saying the minimum, to the frustration of her parents and a bullying teacher. Melinda's only friend is a transfer student, who doesn't know about the party and another student who dislikes the teacher who picks on Melinda. Melinda's parents nag her and blame each other for Melinda's silence. To be fair to her terrible parents, Melinda never confides in any adult, and is unable to seek help.

My book club read Wintergirls and I hated it because I thought the writing was overblown and pretentious.  While I enjoyed Speak much more plot-wise, I still hated the writing.
The noise of four hundred mouths moving, consuming, pulls me away from her. The background pulsing of the dishwashers, the squeal of announcements that no one hears – it is a vespiary, the Hornet haven. I am a small ant crouched by the entrance, with the winter wind at my back. I smother my green beans with mashed potatoes.
Melinda thinks she has survived the rape, until she discovers that her former best friend is dating her rapist. I know it sounds like a Lifetime Movie Network plot, but you can feel Melinda's terror. And so Melinda turns stalker, in order to protect her former friend. Adam, the rapist, is manipulative and menacing - the perfect villain.
I am a deer frozen in the headlights of a tractor trailer. Is he going to hurt me again? He couldn’t, not in school. Could he? Why can’t I scream, say something, do anything?
A haunting story, the author refers to her own novel as "the most important book of the decade." Once again, excessive, although it was memorable.

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