Monday, November 15, 2010

Speak Loudly--Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I'm back from my cruise to Mexico! It was the best vacation I've ever been on, but I'm glad to be back home. I missed my dog, my cat, my friends, and of course, writing on my blog (seriously). If you remember, before I left, I made all of you guys a promise that I would have a review for you when I returned. I'm happy to say, I did not fail you! I finished Laurie Halse Anderson's novel, Speak, on Saturday night and wow, I was blown away.

Let me tell you a little about all the hype surrounding this book and why I read it. With the big controversy of some ridiculous professor trying to get the book banned for being "soft porn" (a claim which is some of the biggest, excuse my French, bull shit I've ever heard), everyone seemed to be reading this book. Naturally, being the personality that I am, when I heard that someone was trying to get the book banned, I automatically wanted to read it. I know that sounds stupid, but that's just the type of person I am. It's not that I like the drama, in fact, I hate the drama, but my thought is that if someone's trying to ban it, there must be something interesting in between those pages. Actually, every single one of my favorite YA books has been banned (or someone attempted to ban it). Well, here's my thoughts on this banning idea...

There is nothing wrong with this book and there is no reason it should be banned from schools. In fact, I think it NEEDS to be read in schools. Before I decided to teach college level Creative Writing/English, I wanted to teach high school level English (who knows, I might still end up doing that some day). As someone who is a future educator, I would willingly, gladly, and excitedly assign this to ALL my students. Now, I won't go on too much longer about my opposition to the book being banned. If you're interested in that, then feel free to research it. What I really want to speak about is Speak itself.

This is, by far, one of the BEST books I've read in a long time. I couldn't put Speak down. Not only is Speak emotionally moving, touching, frightening and every other spectrum of emotion you can imagine, but it is one of the best written YA novels I've ever encountered. Laurie Halse Anderson's writing is filled with strong, powerful, and authentic YA voice. The first person narration of her main character, Melinda Sordino, is one of the best and most characteristic fiction voices I've ever read. It's hard to talk about this book without giving away all the details, so I can't say much about the plot without spoiling it for you--but let me tell you, you NEED to read this. Trust me.

One of the things I love about having paperback books is that I can lend them to my friends. I only lend people novels that I absolutely love. I would never hand a friend something that I thought was just okay or mediocre. Well, this book is being passed around to every one of my close friend's starting today, which says a lot. For this reason, I present Laurie Halse Anderson's novel, Speak, with a rating of full moon!

Speak receives the highest recommendation this blog and I have to offer. This novel is simultaneously beautiful and frightening, funny and dark, poignant and gritty. It is FANTASTIC! I give it my highest recommendation. One last thing I'd like to say, which I think really shows how I feel about this book. 

Despite its overwhelming popularity, YA literature is sometimes looked down upon by academics, and even at times by other 'adult' commercial writers. It's not always so easy to be taken seriously when you write YA lit. So the biggest compliment that I can give to Speak, is that it makes me proud to be a YA author. This book brought out very strong emotions in me and there is nothing more that a novel can strive for.


  1. Wow Kaitylin, I can't remember when I've read a more enthusiastic review! I'm curious as to what the element is in the book that caused the banning controversy?

  2. Lol! I really did love that book. When I like something that much I'm VERY enthusiastic about it. When I first picked it up I thought it was just going to be okay, but I was blown away. Some professor out in the midwest claims that one of the scenes is like soft core porn--but it is a completely ridiculous claim. I think the guy is a sick freak for thinking that.

  3. This novel allows a teenager to relate to something they may not want to speak about. The way topics were introduced were a great way to show teenagers they are not alone and it may be happening to someone else. The author did a wonderful job at keeping the situations realistic and portraying multiple issues that every teenager faces at some point throughout high school. From your friends turning their back on you to finding out that someone else has the same problems you do and are to afraid to talk about it too, to rape and depression, every teenager who reads this novel can relate in one way or another.