Saturday, May 9, 2009

My First Laurie Halse Anderson Book

I finished Anderson's book Speak today.

This book has been around for ten years. I've seen it in bookstores, I've seen the Lifetime movie, and it was the movie which made me think, "I need to read this book."

It is well written. It is interesting, and it sounds like a teenage girl (named Melinda Sordino) with some issues.

It has touched a lot of people, but I don't think it's a book that everyone needs to read, necessarily. It's a good read. It's intelligent, and it shows the journey of someone who's been through something horrible, and is slowly dragging herself out of the muck and dealing with a frightening issue.

The scene which was sort of a let down, however, for me, was the scene which involves what it is that happened to Melinda. It was horrible, but I felt like the author toned it down a lot. It didn't have the impact I was expecting, the impact that the movie had. A scene towards the end, where there is a threat that the horror will be re-lived is very vivid, and I felt like I was there. The memory, on the other hand, felt kind of flat. It lessened the horror a bit, because the narrating was sort of bland. Kind of like reading a history book - a person can be talking about really amazing, interesting things, but the manner in which it is related (usually dry) makes it harder to realize how impressive or horrible the past has been.

And another thing that got me is how much Melinda is an outcast. You see, I was an outcast. I still am an outcast. In reality, I do not have any friends. I have my family, I have my boyfriend, and I have me. That's it. I'm not exaggerating. I'm bad at socializing. I don't know the right things to say and do. I'm not charming. I'm not pretty. I'm just me.

The character of Melinda kind of made me feel bad. I don't think that was Anderson's intention, at all, but it's how I felt. You see, Melinda doesn't have any friends because of her horrible past, and misunderstanding, and because she's dealing with all of these issues. And nothing even close to the caliber of what happened to Melinda happened to me. I feel like something that horrible should have happened to me, to cause me to be in the same situation - but since nothing did, I feel like an impostor or something. It's stupid, but while I recognize that this is a good book, I don't like this impression that I received. This impression wasn't implicit in the words or anything, though, I think it's just something my brain came up with to torture me. Yet it's still there.

Anyway, to quickly summarize: it is a good book, and I recommend it for people who like YA, or stories about people who live through something and get through an issue, where you are experiencing the person discovering herself and her life again.

No comments: