In a stunning first novel, Anderson uses keen observations and vivid imagery to pull readers into the head of an isolated teenager. Divided into the four marking periods of an academic year, the novel, narrated by Melinda Sordino, begins on her first day as a high school freshman. No one will sit with Melinda on the bus. At school, students call her names and harass her; her best friends from junior high scatter to different cliques and abandon her. Yet Anderson infuses the narrative with a wit that sustains the heroine through her pain and holds readers' empathy. A girl at a school pep rally offers an explanation of the heroine's pariah status when she confronts Melinda about calling the police at a summer party, resulting in several arrests. But readers do not learn why Melinda made the call until much later: a popular senior raped her that night and, because of her trauma, she barely speaks at all. Only through her work in art class, and with the support of a compassionate teacher there, does she begin to reach out to others and eventually find her voice." Though the symbolism is sometimes heavy-handed, it is effective. The ending, in which her attacker comes after her once more, is the only part of the plot that feels forced. But the book's overall gritty realism and Melinda's hard-won metamorphosis will leave readers touched and inspired. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author of books for kids of all ages--including Fever 1793, Chains, Twisted, and many others. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous national and state awards, as well as international recognition. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Anderson was honored with the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award given by the YALSA division of the American Library Association for her "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature." Anderson was born in Potsdam, New York in 1961. Growing up, she loved reading and listening to family stories. She graduated from Georgetown University in 1984. Before becoming a full-time writer, she was freelance journalist, and then worked part-time at a bookstore to earn money while working on her fiction. Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes.
"In a stunning first novel, Anderson uses keen observations and vivid imagery to pull readers into the head of an isolated teenager. . . . Yet Anderson infuses the narrative with a wit that sustains the heroine through her pain and holds readers' empathy. . . . But the book's overall gritty realism and Melinda's hard-won metamorphosis will leave readers touched and inspired." --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review "An uncannily funny book even as it plumbs the darkness, Speak will hold readers from first word to last." --The Horn Book, Starred Review "A frightening and sobering look at the cruelty and viciousness that pervade much of contemporary high school life, as real as today's headlines. . . . The plot is gripping and the characters are powerfully drawn . . . a novel that will be hard for readers to forget." --Kirkus Reviews, Pointer Review "Melinda's pain is palpable, and readers will totally empathize with her. This is a compelling book, with sharp, crisp writing that draws readers in, engulfing them in the story." --School Library Journal "A story told with acute insight, acid wit, and affecting prose." --Library Journal "Melinda's voice is distinct, unusual, and very real as she recounts her past and present experiences in bitterly ironic, occasionally even amusing vignettes. . . . Melinda's sarcastic wit, honesty, and courage make her a memorable character whose ultimate triumph will inspire and empower readers." --Booklist