Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
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. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.
This is an amazing book. I feel like lots of people know that, even if they haven’t read it. I thought I knew that before I read it, but…wow. The story follows Melinda Sordino as she tries to come to terms with being raped, being an outcast, and the general insanity of high school. Everyone can relate to this book, but I think it’s especially important for teens (male and female) to read. I wish I’d read this book while I was in high school. I would have realized I wasn’t the only one thinking and feeling the things I did. Even those lucky enough not to have been victims of sexual assault will emphasize with the difficulty of finding your place in high school. Melinda suffers through deep depression and isolation, and yet the book manages to be really funny. Her acerbic wit and sarcastic observations hit you squarely in the gut. She has so much to say, but lack of support in her life has rendered her almost mute. We follow Melinda as she struggles to find an outlet for her voice and to recapture the strength that was stolen from her.
It really angers me that ignorant individuals like these people in Florida think that this book is “child pornography” because it dares to deal with the very real and very important issue of teen rape. Teens NEED these kind of books, books that are honest and relevant to their lives. If you think stopping teens from reading books with naughty words and sexual references will somehow protect them you are dead wrong. They’re already being exposed, probably in much less healthy ways than in wonderful books like Speak.
Honestly, at this point I’m just going to give you quotes:
“I wonder how long it would take for anyone to notice if I just stopped talking.”
“I have survived. I am here. Confused, screwed up, but here. So, how can I find my way? Is there a chain saw of the soul, an ax I can take to my memories or fears?”
“When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time.”
“Sometimes I think high school is one long hazing activity: if you are tough enough to survive this, they’ll let you become an adult. I hope it’s worth it.”
“I’m the only one sitting alone, under the glowing neon sign which reads, “Complete and Total Loser, Not Quite Sane. Stay Away. Do Not Feed.”
“I watch the Eruptions. Mount Dad, long dormant, now considered armed and dangerous. Mount Saint Mom, oozing lava, spitting flame. Warn the villagers to run into the sea.”
“I stand in the center aisle of the auditorium, a wounded zebra in a National Geographic special, looking for someone, anyone to sit next to. A predator approaches: gray jock buzz cut, whistle around a neck thicker than his head. Probably a social studies teacher, hired to coach a blood sport.”
“Mr. Freeman: This looks like a tree, but it is an average, ordinary, everyday, boring tree. Breathe life into it. Make it bend – trees are flexible, so they don’t snap. Scar it, give it a twisted branch – perfect trees don’t exist. Nothing is perfect. Flaws are interesting. Be the tree.”