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The Reflection

Award-winning novel ‘Speak’ remains impactful, even while being banned

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“Speak” won the Golden Kite award for fiction in 2000. The novel was a National Book Award Finalist in 2000 as well. Photo by Courtney Pedersen.

Written in 1999 by Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak was listed by the School Library Journal on October 13, 2010 as a banned book. As a novelist, Anderson breaks the social barrier. She addresses mental illnesses and sexual assault because she knows how important it is for young adults to be aware of these issues in today’s world.

Speak follows the life of Melinda Sordino, a freshman who is outcast after calling the cops on a party over the summer. No one thinks to ask Melinda if there was more to the story; they just assume that she is a nark and block her out completely. Even her best friends who she thought knew seem to have forgotten her entire existence and assume the rumors are true. In her vast loneliness, Melinda is befriended by a new girl, who eventually leaves her too. Melinda finds herself alone with her thoughts and horrendous memories until eventually the truth comes out.

Anderson does a tremendous job of addressing self harm, depression and sexual assault in an easy to relate and modern form. The same adult issues that got the book banned, as well as so many books of literary merit.

The whole book follows the school year; it has an excellent pace and great selection of details. The story has good tone, making sure to contain mystery, a slight depressing light and bit of happiness. Anderson makes sure that the story draws the reader in and informs them in a way that is still interesting

As an overall novel, Speak is exactly what young adults need to read and an example of great literature.


Courtney Pedersen
About

My name is Courtney Pedersen and I'm a senior. For the Reflection I primarily write news and feature stories. I am the news and media editor. I also am heavily involved in TAB, PAC, Spanish Club and the literary magazine.

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