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review 2017-05-11 16:00
Speak By L.H.Anderson
Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak by L.H. Anderson was a short book (143 pages), but it delivered a strong message. The protagonist, Melinda, doesn’t say much and as the novel progresses says even less. As the novel is written in deep POV we’re only privy to past details if the protagonist is thinking about them in the present moment, so the reader has to wait a while to find out exactly what happened to Melinda at the party that sparked her reluctance to say much and for most everyone in her school to dislike her, even her old best-friend. Sorry, my writing brain is coming out! I’ll stop. *zips mouth*


So, because of what happened at the party Melinda went to she no longer has any friends and has to hang out with the new girl at school, Heather. Heather is all kinds of self-absorbed, something that Melinda eventually protests in the latter stages of the book. *High five* that she eventually stuck up for herself.


I loved the writing style, it was immersive and real, but I think I enjoyed the characterisation more. Everyone, from Melinda to her teachers felt so real. Melinda was really quirky, like when she did up the store room for her personal hideout and retained her unique sense of humour regardless of what happened to her.


As much as the book felt light, it had a really important message. I suspected what happened to Melinda at the party from the outset, but the way she dealt with it and ultimately healed was unique and very believable.

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review 2017-04-30 21:56
Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson

I did not enjoy high school. When I hear about those who had 'fun', I always wonder how they managed to avoid bullying, lousy teachers, academic pressure, or the general angst adolescence brings.  But some enjoy it. Maybe they had the steel to survive the bullshit. Everyone is different. Most kids were just trying to get by. Like I was.


'Speak' is about one of those regular kids. In the summer before school starts Melinda gets assaulted by an older student at a party. She tells no one, and worse comes to worst she is also blamed for blowing the whistle on the party after the police arrive. So she starts high school being branded a snitch and her friends abandoning her. She has no one to tell the truth about that night. She had been raped.


As a reader I joined Melinda's odyssey through 9th grade. I have never experienced the horror of being raped, but the desolate pit that keeps growing in Melinda is something I do recognize. When trauma happens, the long days ahead become about survival. The past normalcy of your life is one you don't recognize anymore. 


The absurdity of high school is more enunciated to Melinda now. Like her I had flaky 'friends' who disappeared when cooler people came around, bullies who shoved you in the hallway, dumb football coaches as teachers, and rigorous courses catering to standardized testing.


But there is some light that shines through. It happens for Melinda and it happened for me. Her art class and the sweet relationship with her art teacher makes me emotional each time I read it.


Trauma doesn't happen to everybody, and it shouldn't happen to someone so early. Melinda has to learn to 'speak' about what happens to her. She has to understand there are people who care and people who want to listen. That is the first step forward. And she makes it happen.

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review 2016-11-17 23:04
Ashes (The Seeds of America Trilogy) - Laurie Halse Anderson

This is it, the final book in the series. I didn’t know what to expect as book two in this series had me all over the place, hoping for the best but finding that just when I started to get comfortable, bam the unexpected occurred. Isabel finally finds her little sister Ruth and I felt relieved at last but the more that I read it was not the homecoming that I expected. Isabel has a motherly hold on Ruth even though after everything Ruth has experienced in life, she doesn’t need the tight bonds. Again, lots of life lessons run abound in this novel as Ruth does an unbearable simple mistake which cost the girls greatly and cause tension between them. Curzon and Isabel get into an argument over the war as Isabel refuses to tell him which side she prefers in the war and I really enjoyed their argument and the outcome that resulted in the end. The war and life has changed these characters over time, they have matured and they have become individuals with minds that rationalize and see beyond what’s in front of them.


As the girls were in the field with the bombs blasting in the distance, I had been waiting for this moment and it seemed almost picturesque. Time stood still as the truth was spoken and the girls tried to erase the years and distance that had come between them. As the rest of the novel started to wind down, I was waiting for a colossal ending and I felt it was coming. Yet as I read the ending, I felt it was rushed and the last few pages felt out of touch with the rest of the novel. I had to reread it to make sure that I had not skipped something but nope, they were the same words so I guess it was not a great ending for me.

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review 2016-11-17 14:32
Forge - Laurie Halse Anderson

The drama continues and I was sucked right into it. There is so much talk about the war, what side individuals were taking and how much longer they thought the war would last, it really all depended on who you listened to and what you really believed as to what your answer would be. I thought Curzon and Isabel were a good team when they were together but now, they are separated and Curzon has signed on to be a soldier as he feels the war would soon be over and for now at least he would have some security. War is not easy on him though as there are people who make it hard for him because of his color but he concentrates on his work and he thinks of Isabel and tries to make it through each day. Curzon really frustrated me. He signed up for the war, he knew it was going to be tough plus being of African American decent, he had to know that this might become an issue for other soldiers yet he does it anyway. What was he expecting? It didn’t take long for his past to catch up with him and although he’s enraged and feels deceived at what is transpiring there is one small glimmer of sunshine on his horizon. He only hopes that this sunshine feels the same way. Curzon can’t seem to shake his past but he sees a bright future.


What a great continuation of Chains, a novel that had Curzon and Isabel running for their lives. More drama and excitement awaited these two as they searched for Isabel’s younger sister Ruth who was taken from Isabel.   I was hoping that Curzon and Isabel would stay together but that didn’t occur. I loved Isabel’s commitment to her younger sister; she was determined to protect her, so sure that her sister could not survive without her, so sure that her sister was failing without her. Dang, the war! Dang, slavery! Dang you, Laurie Anderson for writing this novel! Just when things started to turn around for these characters, it went back two steps; they never could get a break. I could feel the hope, the energy, death and disappointment bleeding out of this novel. I had to know what lies in the future for these three, I’m glad that I picked up the third book in this series, I can’t stop now.

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review 2016-11-08 20:40
Chains - Laurie Halse Anderson

This book would be great for slavery and civil rights movement in history.  It would be a great collaboration between 6th grade Reading and History teachers.

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