the first time i learned about Speak was when i checked the printz award winners. in the year 2000 it was one of the honor books. then i checked it out on goodreads and considered it as "might be interesting". since then it bobbed up and down my to read list, for i couldn't decide to read or not to read it. finally i read it and i'm glad i did.
i didn't know for sure what this book would be about, because i never gave much thought to it. so it surprised me... much. truth be told, i'm not into that kind of topic. it's way beyond my comfort zone. for the same reason i don't like movies like the accused
, i'm somewhat oversensitive on that score ~.~ strangely enough, speak
was all right with me.
still this book stirred a whole range of emotions in me. it's so authentic, so real, so honest that some passages were hard to read, and cut deep in my soul. that's why i don't like these sort of stories. but the drama was served with so much sarcasm and sometimes fun that i didn't felt like drowning in tears and heartache. it wasn't presented as a sentimental story, it wasn't an overdone tearjerker. so it was, despite the traumatic events, an enjoyable read. it was moving and intense, but never unbearable.
i think it has to do with the authors decision to tell the melinda's story backwards (what a clever move), kind of. you accompany her through her first year on high school without knowing much about what's happened with her. you know she's alone and withdrawn and incommunicative, and she's hated by former friends who steer clear of her. but you don't know why, and that makes the beginning of this book a little strange and confusing. an then, bit by bit, you come to know melinda, you grow fond of her; you suffer vicariously with her; you witness how she's more and more withdrawing back into oneself, how she stops speaking, how she's making desperate efforts to tell what's wrong with her, but refrains from telling, because she's convinced that no one give's a shit about what she has to say. (at least that's how i felt while reading.)
sometimes i wanted to seize melinda by the collar to shake the words out of her. as we go along, increasing evidence come up, in flashbacks you learn about the summer-party and why melinda is how she is, and suddenly all the confusion is starting to make sense.
because how can you be not confused if melinda herself is confused like hell? if she herself, in the first place, needs to come to terms with what's happened to her? fortunately she manages to cope with the happenings, and the story comes to an appropriate end. it's no happy end, but a good one that restores hope for melinda.
i don't know if i would recommend this book. i really liked it, it's a great read, exceptionally well written, sometimes slow, sometimes fast-paced, gripping, enthralling. i think it's an important story about judging, the importance of family and friends, and finding strength, and i think everyone should give it a try. but it's not everyone's topic, so read with care.
btw, this book was made into a movie (i didn't knew that before ^^). i tried to enjoy the flicker, but i couldn't. i like the book better :)