Thursday, January 8, 2009

Speak Up!

This blog is dedicated to readers, writers and authors who want to discuss the impact Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson has had on young adult literature.

25 comments:

Susanne said...

The first time I read Speak was in eighth grade. Well, more accurately, it was read to me. My teacher, at the end of the year, decided she was going to read us a little every day, and soon we were asking her to read "just one more chapter, just one more page!"

Then, just before my freshman year of high school, I changed schools. I knew next to no one, and felt so awful. About a week after school started, I was in a bookstore, and suddenly in my mind remembered- "Speak! I need that book!" I devoured it once more, and it helped me through those tough few months.

Fast forward one more time, to my freshman year of college! By now, I've been through all the typical ups and downs of adolescence (with more to come). But in November of that year, I had lost two people very close to me (not through death, but through their choice to leave). One had hurt me more than I thought it was possible for another human being to hurt. I was feeling abandoned, alone, and powerless. What book did I pick up off my college dorm room bookshelf? That's right, Speak. It got me through those months, too.

What this ramble is trying to say is, Speak, and more importantly, Melinda, got me through some of the hardest parts of my life. More than once I would find myself saying firmly, "Melinda hung in there, so can you."

And I did. I hung in here, and I made it through. Quite a few years later, I'm sure there will still be big roadblocks in my life, the sort you don't see coming. But I'm pretty sure I know what book I'll be picking up to help me through those times.

Thank you, Laurie, for an amazing book. (And how old do I feel, knowing I first read it only a year and a half after its release! 10 years?! :P)

Ms. Brewer said...

I have assigned this book to my eleventh grade students for two years in a row now. The book always produces some interesting discussion from my students, especially the girls. The boys sometimes are indifferent but seem to agree that Andy is wrong and the way the student body treats Melinda is wrong. This book is a very useful tool in educating young people about so many topics from teen depression to alcohol use and abuse to rape and on and on. I hope that when my students leave my classroom that they will be better informed young adults as they make their way through their senior year of high school and on to college. Speak helps me achieve that and I thank Laurie for blessing us with this gift.

at116 said...

My 11th grade english class was assigned to read this book. I found it very appealing to today's time. I really like reading it, it was something different to read and explore. I love the waw the author went into deatail to talk about every mood that the main character Malinda went through. I think alot more people should have to read this book,because in this day and time rape is happening to more and more people. I LOVED THIS BOOK!! Hey Ms. Brewer!!

ck110 said...

Our 11th grade english class was assigned this book to read (same as above). I already knew what had happened to Melinda (that she was raped), but I hadn't read the book yet, so when i first began reading, the only part I was ready to get to was the part explaining how she was raped. But, all in all, it was a great book to read, and my heart goes out to all the young and old women and men that have been raped or sexually assulted (and to the ones who will be). This book really opened my eyes and made me realize that you never know what the person next to you is going through, and the next time I see someone sitting alone, I wont be the one to ignore them. I think I have it bad sometimes, but I always remember that someone may have it worse than me. This book was very inspiring to me and I agree that more students should be required to read it. Rape is not acceptable in any form or fashion! I also loved this book!! (HEEY Ms. Brewer. :] and ALEX!)

RS115 said...

I read this book before it was assigned to our 11th grade english class, and i loved every bit of it, from the freaky Hairwoman to her old janitors closet. I also really liked how the book was set up, you knew that something bad happened but it wasn't given away till later. Throughout the book there are pieces to the puzzle of what really happened at the party, but it isn't till later that you can picture what exactly happened. I think any kind of rape is hideous. I also think the people at school had no right to treat Melinda the way they did since they had no idea what the whole story was. I hate that this happened to her, and to anyone who has gone through it (or anything like it). I along with Cylena and Alex LOVED this book! (Hey Ms. Brewer, Alex and Lena!)

KTW10SHS! :) said...

I loved this book! I just finished reading it tonight, and it is one of the best books i have ever read. It gives us a great picture of how rape really affects women. This book has helped so many people who have experienced the same thing really open up and talk about their problems. It has helped so many women realize that they need to speak up for themselves and let justice be served. THis book is truly a blessing to all who read it. It helps us to just a little better understand people who have gone through this problem. THanks Laurie for this book!

AG105 said...

This book was amazing. The fact that people are actualy treated like that just hurts me. I could never imagine what it must feel like to be raped and hope I never have to. This book helped me to better realize what some people go through in the real world. I hope and pray for anyone going through a situation like Melinda's. It's just sad that it actualy has to happen to anyone. Any person out there who feels that raping someone is exceptable is an idiot to say the least. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE FOR RAPING ANYONE! Thank you so much for this book Laurie. It really helps better understand how people who go through things like this really feel.

WJ108 said...

My 11th grade english class was assigned to read this book. At first when we got it i was like great another stupid book, but when i started to read it it became apparent to me that the book deals a lot with what we students go through in our daily lives. For example the clicks at the school a lot of us are just like them in a lot of ways. This book comes from the girls point of view, but either way you look at it Malinda was raped its sad, but i hope this book inspires people to speak up and tell people about thye horrers of it so people will know how to prevent rape from happening. (Thanks Ms. Brewer for giving us this book it was great!)

RW 117 said...

I really enjoyed reading Speak. Some of the difficulties Melinda was facing were some of the same things that I had went through or was going through. I hope by reading Speak teens will not be so quick to judge their peers. You never know what a person is going through and you don't know their reasoning for dtheir actions. I admire all the people who have had the courage and strenght to live through being raped. I would not wish that terrible action on anyone. If you have been raped and have not spoken about it please find help and someone to talk to. The person who did it deserves to be punished.

SL 111 said...

I did not like to read until i read this book. If i did read i would not like the book if it was a girly book, but i actually liked this book. It influenced me to start reading more often. Melinda did not deserve to be raped or being humiliated like that. I am glad that everyone found out about the rape

ms114 said...

Our class has been reading this book over the past two weeks and I have enjoyed it very much. It is different that most books we are assigned to read at school. Even though I have never experienced anything quite like Melinda I would say that every high school student could relate to this story in some way. Today we actually read a poem writen by the author called Listen. She took pieces from letters sent to her and it is absolutely heart wrenching. Even though Melinda is sarcastic and silly this book has some very serious issues in it. Not only is it deep, it's real! So many people actually have to deal with this kind of stuff. I think that by this book being writen it has definitely encouraged girls (and guys) to Speak Up!

IH107 said...

Speak is a very interesting book.I think that many high schools should require their freshmen students to read this book because it may realate to many of them.To me this book teaches children my age alot of certain things about life.I am glad that my teacher required my class to read this book.

ss113 said...

My eleventh grade english class was assigned this book to read. At first I was like great another stupid girl book but as I read it became more apparent this book deals with all the aspects of high school life. I enjoyed the book at it was very surprising on how the story went through all the stages so smoothly.

KP112 said...

My class was assigned to read the book. As I started to read the book I really couldn't understand it but now this book has made me look at the bigger picture in the world today about rape and other things that may go on behind closed doors. I enjoyed the book and I feel that this book could help me people get through that problem.

Anonymous said...

I fist saw the movie version of Speak and couldn't stop crying. I had been attacked by my best friend's older brother the summer before my freshman year in high school. I wasn't Melinda, yet I was Melinda.

I wanted to read the book so badly, but I couldn't do it. It sat on my bookshelf for three years, and every time I picked it up, I'd start shaking and couldn't bring myself to read it. But I did read it.

Although I still don't always speak, Melinda helped me find a voice. I'm 27 now, and Melinda is me.

Anonymous said...

I read an off-shoot of the Babysitter’s club, California Diaries. Each book was about a teen with a problem. Teen + California + issue= book.

We teach books about war to high school students. There are hundreds with distinct styles, by famous authors, with memorable characters. About different nations at different points in history. SO Catch-22 is a good book because it made me (16-year old girl me) laugh and cry and relate to Yossarian. The California Diaries were not good books because they couldn’t do any of those things, because they put the issue before the story. We can tell when people do that, and we make fun of it. “This week on a very special episode of blah, blah, dumb.”

I’m not a teacher yet, but I will be soon. And I think if I were to teach Speak, I could make a point of comparing the short, individually titled chapters to poems. If there were a gun to my head, I could talk about synecdoche and hyperbole. And of course, symbolism. Already, there are a few lessons lined up that are about as good as anything my 9th grade English teacher put together for whatever we read that year, and that’s basics.

We should teach Speak because it’s a good book and not a chore to read. We should teach speak because some young men have asked Laurie Halse Anderson why Melinda was so upset about being raped. By all means, let’s stick our heads in the ground and teach abstinence in High School, but let’s find a way to impress upon young men that rape usually doesn’t take place at gunpoint in a back alley. That even when it looks like what teenagers usually do, it’s awful. It kills parts of you, and makes you a stranger in your own life. We should teach Speak before it’s too late, and when it is too late, so girls know how to come back to life. You have to tell some one.

Anonymous said...

You know, I am 13 years old. I'm in 8th grade. And I'm a guy. At first I thought this was going to be another stupid girly book about love and vampires. But I have read Twisted by Anderson, so I thought that I'd give it a chance.

As I read through it, I found a piece of Melinda inside of me. Not the same situation, but the way she handled it. She didn't speak. I find that there are things that I just can't speak that are on my heart. But towards the end, as Melinda begins to open up, I have a revelation. It takes a couple of days to contemplate this, but I am starting to open up to my parents, friends, and others. I had little to no faith in others And some other problems as well. Mrs. Anderson has given something in literature that no one else really can like her, the gift of voice.

This may sound corny but this book has changed my life. This is no joke. Sure I've read other books that have touched me, but this one has a meaning which is hard to describe. I thank Mrs. Anderson for showing the world that those who battle personal struggles can Speak. I am a witness to that.

Cynthia said...

I still cannot believe that SPEAK came out in 1999 when I, like Melinda Sordino, was in ninth grade. If she were a real person, she'd be my age. That's crazy to think. Perhaps that is why I share a connection to her and her story – I really get her dry sarcasm.

I also can hardly believe that SPEAK was Laurie Halse Anderson’s first novel. I love that she doesn’t shy away from the sensitive, shy, scary topics of adolescent life, the ones that make teachers like me have to get parents to sign permission forms for: ostracism, rape, suicide, under-aged parties. She exemplifies what I love about young adult literature: that adolescents don’t have to feel like they are alone.

I remember ninth grade. I had very few friends. I’d never had a boyfriend. I felt all alone, like no one had ever been through what I was going through. But that simply wasn’t true. Tons of teenagers feel that.

That’s why I feel slighted when I look back to my teenage years without contemporary young adult literature. I needed someone to tell me it was okay; to tell me they’d been there and made it to the other side. I could have read SPEAK in ninth grade, the year it came out, but instead I was analyzing ROMEO AND JULIET and THE ODYSSEY. I was digging for symbolism and figurative language. I was completely turned off to reading. I didn’t know its power.

But now I know the power of books. They have the power to get us through the hard times. They let us know we can get on with our lives. It’s okay.

That’s what SPEAK is for me and that’s why I cannot hide my excitement over starting it with my eighth graders in their last quarter before high school. It is a gift to teenagers that I cannot wait to share.

:) Cynthia Mitchell
Satellite Beach, FL

db said...

I read Speak in a college course and absolutely loved it. I am going to be a teacher one day soon and this book showed me some characteristics to maybe keep an eye out for when I have students of my own. It showed me how to treat and not to treat my students when I feel that they are not doing their best. Like an earlier post said, I do not know what someone is going through so it would be wrong of me, as a teacher, to judge or label a student. This book opened my eyes to things that students in my classroom may be facing that I need to be prepared for.
I did not want to put this book down when I was reading it. It kept me interested and kept me wanting to read, which is hard to accomplish with a book.
I am very glad that I read this book.

H Roberson said...

I feel that this book is very appropriate for young readers and parents/teachers of young readers alike. It was required reading for me as a teacher candidate of middle school students. It put into perspective all the information that I have learned about middle school, developmental stages, and pressures that the students may suffer.

I really liked this book. I recommend it to anyone who knows a young person. It was very well written. It was engaging from beginning to end.

Drew Clarke said...

I read this book in a college education class and really got into it. I didn't know the book was about rape when I started it, but I'd read other similar novels, so I saw it coming after I'd read a bit of it. It would have been nearly impossible to guess if I wasn't privy to her thoughts though.

I really enjoyed Melinda's narration, especially her dry wit. The names she gives everything were especially good. She has such a charming voice as a narrator that it's easy to forget she barely says two words during a whole day. I could relate to the way is trapped inside her own mind and has difficulty expressing herself. I was a bit like that in high school too, though for entirely different reasons.

JDH said...

I read this book in a college literacy class, and I really liked it. I think that young adult literature is a genre that is actually helping our youth grow up. Speak, in particular, helps young women in a hard position feel empowered. It shows the importance of speaking up. As a future teacher it reminded me about high school actually was. While I have been studying to be a teacher I sometimes forget how it was to be a student, and I think books like this allow adults to remember what kind of situations youth are going through now.

Therefore, I would recommend this book and I will most likely use this book and books like this in my high school English classroom.

Anonymous said...

it was a great book :)

Anonymous said...

and it's 8:23 where i am

Anonymous said...

omg i read dis book and i luved it. im only in gr. 7 and dis book taught me a lot. laurie hasle anderson should rite more books bout dis.

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