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note: this review does not contain spoilers, but may be triggery for rape or abuse survivors.

I’ve had an insanely busy week at work, so the only book I’ve read this week has been Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, a novel about Melinda, a girl starting high school, drifting apart from her old friends and gradually refusing to talk. It was an impulse buy, after a fashion – I mistook it for another book, didn’t check the back cover, and it wasn’t until I was on the Tube that I realised my mistake. I’m also pretty much exhausted, so this is going to be a very brief review.

Melinda is a social outcast after calling the police at a party over the summer. Her former best friends are no longer speaking to her, and her parents’ marriage is falling apart. Her grades are slipping in everything but art, and she gets persistant flashbacks to an event she only refers to as ‘IT’. It becomes clear that she was assaulted at the party over the summer by an older, popular boy at her new school, but hasn’t told anyone. Her gradual acceptance of (and anger at) what happened is convincing, and that is what makes it at times an uncomfortable book to read. It also encapsulates the bitchy, cliquey nature of adolescence, and the sacrifices teenagers feel that they have to make in order to maintain their place in the social pecking order. It should probably be required reading for teenagers, given that it so accurately sums up the complicated sexual politics and even more complicated social hierarchy that develops as you grow up.

Although I found the ending somewhat anticlimactic – it looked like it was going to be promising and I enjoyed Melinda’s character development, but the final confrontation felt staged and the resolution seemed uncertain – overall I really enjoyed it.

In other news, this might be the most adorable reaction EVER to seeing copies of your own book.

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