Banned Books Week Featured Book: Speak
"Melinda Sordino's freshman year is off to a horrible start. She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now her friends--and even strangers--all hate her. Months pass and things aren't getting better. She's a pariah. The lowest of the low. Avoided by everyone. But eventually, she'll reveal what happened at the party. And when she finally speaks the truth, eveything will change." -- from book cover
"Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson tells the story of Melinda Sordino, a freshman outcast entering high school. For months, Melinda moves through the halls of her high school, trying to fly under the radar while being subject to ostracism and ridicule by her classmates and former friends, all the while falling into a deep depression.
Anderson wrote "Speak" in 1999 and the book quickly received national attention and commendations. It is a New York Times Bestseller, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, National Book Award Finalist, and Tayshas High School Reading List winner, among many others. The book was also adapted into an independent film starring Kristen Stewart in 2004.
This book is a powerful, beautifully written novel conveying a young woman's grief, confusion, and struggle to cope with a sexual assault. Anderson treats this delicate topic with respect and creates a believable and strong character who brings herself out of depression and eventually confronts her assailant.
"Speak" is the first book I read by Anderson and immediately made me a fan of her work. I love that Anderson doesn't shy away from difficult topics that many would rather sweep aside and ignore.
The book has faced some challenges over the years, but one of the biggest controversies was in 2010 in Republic, Missouri. Wesley Scroggins, a member of the area community, wrote an opinion piece in the News-Leader in which he describes the book as "soft pornography" due to the main character briefly recounting two rape scenes. Scroggins also denounced two other books--"Twenty Boy Summer" by Sarah Ockler and "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut. The Republic school district removed all three books, but quickly voted to return "Speak" to the shelves shortly after the matter gained national attention.
To view a reading of this book, see the library's YouTube channel.
To see more about banned books, check the library's Banned Books Week Guide. We'll also be in the UC from 11am-2pm all this week for virtual read-outs.