Book Review 2. “Speak”


I hated this book in high school. All I remembered for the longest was this scene of a girl and her bed with stuffed animals, going to scream in her closet. When I think about it now, I know it’s because I’ve always hated to be forced to read books, as I was at the time.

Summary: “Speak” is about a girl named Melinda who has a secret… At a party the summer before her freshman year, Melinda is raped by one of the most popular boys at school. Only, no one knows, and she’s afraid to tell her parents. This is normally not a book that I would pick up, but after reading it again out of high school on my own (and no I’m not sure why I picked it up), I fell in love with it. I suppose for me it was the aesthetics; the book was so beautifully written relatable because of Melinda’s voice. She was real. Not only that, despite such a dark and lonely book, it was funny and interesting. We had to watch as Melinda navigated through her freshman year being hated by the populars, the mediocre crowd, and even those who pitted themselves against the popular and the lowest of the lowest. She became THE outcast, sure and to the point, and had NO ONE to confide in. With the help of her teacher, an outcast in his own rights, she learns how to open up.

Now: I love this book.

Recommended Audience would be middle school and high school students, and is even applicable for adults.

It is difficult to find weaknesses in this book. I just wish the boy who raped Melinda would’ve gotten more than he did in the terms of punishment. As for strengths, this book has a very distinct voice, as do most of Laurie Halse Anderson’s books. You can get a sense of her voice in the very first sentence of the book, “It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new note-books, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache” (Anderson, pg. 3).

My Reflections: This book relates to teens who have a hard time opening up about something traumatic that has happened to them. Not only does it teach others how to overcome and express themselves in times of great trial, it also teachers readers how to be sympathetic as well as have a sense of what may be going on to their peers who resemble people like Miranda in their life. I think people enjoy it for those reasons, but it’s also in the sense of YA entertainment, a good read. It delivers relatable characters, suspense, and wit.

When I see other YA, or even middle grade books, I can evaluate them based on books like this one to see if they deliver. I can see if they’ll be helpful to young teens and be more cognizant about where they belong in a library as well as acknowledge these type of books monthly just as when we acknowledge Black History Month or other important events.

Laurie’s Website:

EXCERPT taken from Laurie Halse Anderson’s website:


Laurie Halse Anderson


It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache.

The school bus wheezes to my corner. The door opens and I step up. I am the first pickup of the day. The driver pulls away from the curb while I stand in the aisle. Where to sit? I’ve never been a backseat wastecase. If I sit in the middle, a stranger could sit next to me. If I sit in the front, it will make me look like a little kid, but I figure it’s the best chance I have to make eye contact with one of my friends, if any of them have decided to talk to me yet.

The bus picks up students in groups of four or five. As they walk down the aisle, people who were my middle-school lab partners or gym buddies glare at me. I close my eyes. This is what I’ve been dreading. As we leave the last stop, I am the only person sitting alone.

The driver downshifts to drag us over the hills. The engine clanks, which makes the guys in the back holler something obscene. Someone is wearing too much cologne. I try to open my window, but the little latches won’t move. A guy behind me unwraps his breakfast and shoots the wrapper at the back of my head. It bounces into my lap—a Ho-Ho.

We pass janitors painting over the sign in front of the high school. The school board has decided that “Merryweather High—Home of the Trojans” didn’t send a strong abstinence message, so they have transformed us into the Blue Devils. Better the Devil you know than the Trojan you don’t, I guess. School colors will stay purple and gray. The board didn’t want to spring for new uniforms.

Older students are allowed to roam until the bell, but ninth-graders are herded into the auditorium. We fall into clans: Jocks, Country Clubbers, Idiot Savants, Cheerleaders, Human Waste, Eurotrash, Future Fascists of America, Big Hair Chix, the Marthas, Suffering Artists, Thespians, Goths, Shredders. I am clanless. I wasted the last weeks of August watching bad cartoons. I didn’t go to the mall, the lake, or the pool, or answer the phone. I have entered high school with the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, the wrong attitude. And I don’t have anyone to sit with.

I am Outcast.

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Post 10: Elements of Historical Fiction

Do you write YA? Do you write Historical Fiction? Laurie Halse Anderson writes contemporary, as well as historical fiction. If you are thinking about doing it, here is a general summary as to what is included as the norm:Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 10.13.35 AM.png1. It must feel like history to the intended audience. Generally, this means that it has to feel like the events happened in a different place and time. Events from three years ago, or even ten, hardly qualify. The key here is having a setting, cast of characters, and way of life that is unique from today.

2. Make sure your facts are accurate. Many schools use these books to teach about history, so it only makes sense to use factual information, giving your books credibility. The Council on Books for Children procure a list of such books to ensure that the public is getting quality information.

3. Values and roles. How have they changed? Realizing that values have indeed changed and capturing them in your book will aid in positioning your story in a historical context. The way women dressed is an example of change and the role of women at an earlier time. Tying right into this is speech. Northerners have a different dialect than Southerners do. And, in time, the slang we use and regular vocabulary we use changes across culture. This, too, needs to be reflected.

4. Setting. Were there cars, if so, what kind, what did they look like? Were there cellphones? If so, were they big and bulky or razor thin? How did they make their coffee? How did they wash their clothes. They key to historical fiction is that you have to ask, and answer, these kinds of questions.

5. Theme. Still, despite the vast span of time, humans are fundamentally the same. What common desires take place? Events, conflicts? Has someone lost a loved one? If so, how do they heal? Did someone find themselves without any money or food? What did they do? These are common and relatable events that connect us to our ancestors. These themes and conflicts are universal and last through time. The key here is to connect the past events’ issues to todays similar issues. That’s what truly invests a reader in your book.

My Thoughts: I’ve never been a fan of historical fiction. I suppose I just wasn’t intrigued by the books available to me at the time. However, I am a big fan of supporting them and would love to see more of them in our libraries. This comes with a caveat; I want them to be of good quality in their writing style, story-telling, and accuracy. One really neat thing about historical fiction that I find both important and intriguing is that they can still, despite their many contextual differences, relate to us today.

Though it is not a book, Downton Abby is an example of Historical Fiction in the form of a television series that one, I completely adored, two, learned from, and three, appreciated.

All in all, historical fiction is quite neat and valuable.

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Book Review 1: “Period 8”

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Book Review Numero 1 out of 25!

Brief Summary: Paulie is a part of Period 8, a group that gathers to discuss any and everything… truthfully. When Paulie comes out with the truth that he cheated on his girlfriend, Hannah, it doesn’t go quite as he has planned. Meanwhile, another member of the group, Arney, has his own plans and is behind one of the disappearances of another girl in their group, Mary.  As Paulie and Hannah explore what it means to be faithful, honest, and forgiving, they face judgements based on little to no knowledge, a friend turned enemy, and teen questions galore. In the end, Paulie and Hannah come away with a better understanding of themselves and others.

Response: I did not enjoy this book due to the excessive curse words and sexual language. The lack of respect towards God at the end of the book was a turnoff, and in general, I did not feel that the characters ever really grew that much as a result of their trials. Nor did I like the nod that boys are animalistic towards sex and that it is okay, quite similar to the saying, “Boys will be boys.” I did, however, appreciate the viewpoints of not just the protagonist, Paulie, but that of Hannah, Mary, and Logs, the teacher. The book addressed concerns faced by teens and adults today and made an attempt to reflect the natural state of society. The book heavily focused on telling the truth and facing it’s repercussions. It did that successfully.

Connections: YA books boast characters that are or become independent. While Paulie asked his teacher, Mr. Logs, for advice, in the end, he was left to think and act for himself, becoming more independent. As with most YA books, this book also deals with common issues faced by teens today such as: do all boys really just care about sex, as questioned by Hannah (Crutcher, 2013).

Book Trailer:

Censorship: From the Author:

Teen Book Review:

Author Website:

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