Saturday, 27 October 2012

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (3.5/5)

GoodReads says: From her first moment at Merryweather High, Melinda Sordino knows she's an outcast. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops - a major infraction in high-school society - so her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't know glare at her. No one knows why she called the police, and she can't get out the words to explain. So she retreats into her head, where the lies and hypocrisies of high school stand in stark relief to her own silence. But it's not so comfortable in her head, either - there's something banging around in there that she doesn't want to think about. But, try as she might, it just won't go away...

I say: This one of the few books where I thought the film was much better. I did see the film first, and I cried, so I couldn’t wait to finally read the book. 

This is such a powerful story I can’t even know where to begin. Also, I don’t want to turn this into a comparison, but there are a lot of elements of the story that are better conveyed if you can see them. Melinda spends a lot of time working on her art project, which is to draw/create a tree in different mediums, and although we are told how difficult and frustrating it sometimes is, it was easier to understand when I was seeing it.

Having said that, I think that Halse Anderson does a great job of describing the ostracism, loneliness and desperation that Miranda goes through every day. It’s frustrating being on the reading end because all you want is for her to tell someone – anyone – but the words don’t come out for a long time. Also, the guilt and the way she blames herself makes this all the more poignant.

This should be required reading in school.

There’s one ‘scene’ that I really loved and that stood out so clearly, and that is when Miranda scribbles something on the bathroom wall at school and then returns later to find replies from other girls. It’s all anonymous, but it becomes such an empowering moment for her, and I think that’s the deal with being a teenager; you don’t want to be alone in your thoughts and experiences.

So, even though I really love this and the message and I probably would have given it more than a 3.5/5, the film version made me sort of see it in a different light since they told the story in a different way. It’s wrong to say it was told in a better way, it was just a different version that I prefer.


  1. I didn't even know this was a film! Although now that I've read your comparison, do you think it's better to read the book before seeing the film? I've kind of written off this book because I know it's important for a lot of people, I'm just not sure if I can really benefit from reading it. But your review makes it definitely sound worth reading, even if I can't exactly relate to the character.

    1. Hmm, this is a tough question. If you don't feel invested enough to read it, just watch the film. You'll get more out of the film, imo. On the other hand, it's a pretty quick YA read. I had no idea how popular this book was when I saw the film, but now I get why so many people love it.

      This and The Color Purple (and another book/film I can't recall now) are the ones I'll always tell people to watch the film rather than read the book. And for me, that's saying a lot. But do let me know what you think of it - film or book.