Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Release Date: 2001
My Rating: 5/5
From Goodreads: When Melinda Sordino's friends discover she called the police to quiet a party, they ostracize her, turning her into an outcast -- even among kids she barely knows. But even worse than the harsh conformity of high-school cliques is a secret that you have to hide.
My Thoughts: Having heard a lot about this book, I started it with high expectations. I must say that I was not disappointed. I absolutely loved this book! One of the things I liked was how the book was laid out. Given the subject matter and what happened, I felt like stretching the story out throughout an entire school year was appropriate. I don't think Melinda's story would've been done justice if it had been condensed into a matter of days or weeks.
What really made me love this book was how accurate Melinda's character seemed. Not only was she dealing with the transition into high school, but she also had to contend with the loss of her best friends, poor relationships with her parents, and a sexual assault. I felt that Anderson did a fantastic job capturing just what a person can go through after an experience like that. As a sexual assault counselor, I've worked with many Melindas. As I was reading Speak, I could picture in my mind all of those girls sitting across from me struggling with one of the most difficult parts of overcoming sexual violence: talking about it.
Something I appreciated about the story is that Melinda didn't tell anyone right away about what happened to her. It's been my experience that many people assume a sexual assault victim runs to their parents, friends, or police right away to report what has happened to them. Wrong. Many of my clients waited days, weeks, months, and even years before telling a single soul. Many of them only told by accident. I think this was an important piece to Melinda's story. Talking about sexual assault is extremely difficult, especially considering the stigma that often surrounds it. Not only was Melinda frightened, but her perpetrator was a popular guy at high school and she had been drinking. Who would believe her? Unfortunately, it's way too common for a young girl to be sexually assaulted and then accused of just being "mad" or "jealous" after reporting what has happened or accused of consenting simply because she had been drinking. I really connected with Melinda and felt sad that she had to face this alone.