Thursday, April 17, 2014

Teen Review: More realistic fiction

Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak is a 198-page realistic fiction novel with a middle to high school age reading level. I thought it began to go off topic occasionally, so I would rate this 4/5. Once one has read the book, the cover shows a recognizable tree in front of a young girl named Melinda, whom the story follows. There is no sequel to Speak, but the story ends with an unpredictable and conclusive epilogue.

Melinda is a young high school freshman who suffers from the trauma of her recent past. Over summer vacation, after her 8th grade graduation, she went to a party with her friends, and her entire life changed in just ten minutes. Something happened that would scar her memory for life. Not even halfway through the party, she believed that her life was over and she lost all of her friends. In Melinda's flashbacks, the reader can just imagine being in her place as events transpire. With no one around for help, one can feel Melinda giving up on everything. Once school starts in the fall, she must learn to get through high school trying to find her place and fit it, but she cannot reveal the deplorable secret to her old friends that has been eating at her for months.

With such a realistic character, I love the way Anderson creates a scene that can happen any day in any normal high school environment. Melinda was created to portray a young girl whose life has been stolen in a way that she can still get back but struggles to, and stories like that are less common now. Speak shows the proper character development of a teenager and how she becomes herself again after hurling her old self out of a window to be buried in the dirt of a garden full of weeds. It proves that anyone can find themselves if they've forgotten who they truly are. Many young people now need this influence because they are being hurt in ways that no one, especially not a child or teenager, should ever be hurt. I would recommend this to anyone who has ever been lost and is looking for a way back home.

Reviewed by Amy Sepulveda, 9th grade

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