Letter Essay #5

Morgan Wheatley
Mr. Jockers
ILA Period 8


A few days ago, I finished reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Laurie Halse Anderson received the Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association in 2009 for all of her contributions towards young literature. Speak is a 198 page realistic fiction novel. It also became a finalist for the National Book Award in 1999.
An old babysitter gave the book to me when I was in third grade, I was uninterested in the book and it was shoved into boxes, left to collect dust. After moving a couple years ago the book ended up on my shelf, I still had to desire to read it. About a week ago I was bored and searching for a book that would draw me in and envelope me in its story. That’s when I discovered Speak, the book I had ignored so many times.
The book tells the story of a girl named Melinda Sordino, who becomes an outcast at school. All of her old friends, even her best, hate her. Over the summer, before her freshman year of high school, there was a huge end-of-summer party. Melinda called the cops on the party, shutting it down. No one cared to ask why, they were too busy hating her. The best place for her to be is alone, thinking, absorbing everything around her, and not speaking. But there is something she’s trying to push out of her memory.
This book changed the way I view people. Books always do that too me, they cause me to rethink everything I’ve done and they change my perspective. I always get too attached to characters in books, movies, or tv shows. They start to affect my life and take over my brain until I can understand them and how their mind works. With this particular book, I began to feel both the anger and isolation that Melinda was feeling. Although I have never experienced what Melinda did, I was still able to feel what she was, which makes this book really amazing to read.
On of the most important parts of the book is where Andy starts flirting with Melinda at the end-of-summer party. Melinda had had a few more than a couple beers and was extremely out of it.
“We were on the ground. When did that happen? ‘No.’ No I do not like this. I was on the ground and he was on top of me. My lips mumble something about leaving, about a friend who needs me, about my parents worrying. I can hear myself-I’m mumbling like a deranged drunk. His lips lock on mine and I can’t say anything. I twist my head away. He is so heavy. There is a boulder on me. I open my mouth to breathe, to scream, and his hand covers it. In my head, my voice is as clear as a bell: ‘NO I DON’T WANT TO!’ But I can’t spit it out. I’m trying to remember how we got on the ground and where the moon went and wham! Shirt up, shorts down, and the ground smells wet and dark and NO! – I’m not really here, I’m definitely back at Rachel’s, crimping my hair and gluing on fake nails, and he smells like beer and mean and he hurts me hurts me and gets up
and zips his jeans
and smiles.” (page 135-136)
In the book, at the party, Melinda, a freshman, was raped by Andy, a senior. He took total advantage of her. The only thing I would change about this scene is I would go more into Melinda’s mind and open it up to the reader more. This scene changes Melinda as a person, it shuts her down and breaks her apart until she is nothing. This one moment had such a huge impact on Melinda’s life, and I think if the reader knew more of Melinda’s thoughts, then it’d be easier to truly understand exactly how Melinda was feeling. I did like the author’s craft at the end when she wrote “and he smells and beer and mean and he hurts me hurts me and gets up and zips his jeans and smiles.”
Out of ten, I would give Speak an eight. It was extremely well written and I liked how the author wrote it in the way that Melinda speak. This book really made me think about how realistic this story plot was, and how you should never assume something about someone and give up on them without ever asking for the full story. I wouldn’t hesitate to read it again.
Morgan Wheatley

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1 thought on “Letter Essay #5

  1. Morgan,
    Interesting how you shunned that book for so many years, like how Melinda was shunned by her peers. But I’m glad you waited; it really shouldn’t be read – no matter how strong a reader a person is – until at least eighth grade. “Speak” was the first young adult book that I read in a day; I loved it; Laurie Halse Anderson is a gifted writer. Please read more of her stuff.
    Mr. Jockers

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