Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Reviewed by Ty Hensley

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

 
From Goodreads.com:
Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.
 
Who hasn’t regretted something in life? Haven’t we all? Laurie Halse Anderson perfectly displays regret in her book Speak, which deals with the problems of being unnoticed in life, and never being able to truly express life the way we believe, due to other people troubling our being. Set in the same world we live in, fictionally, the novel tells the account of a girl who has no place in life, and is trying to make life better by hiding from fears after a terrible incident occurs. Basically, I gladly adored the novel; I most liked, however, the theme, plot, and unique use of grammar and vocabulary.
 
Firstly, I liked the interesting themes shown in the book, which I believe are relatable to many people. What do we regret in life is the main question portrayed in Speak. In the novel, Melinda Sordino faces personal tragedy, and throughout the book, tries to better life by coming out about her feelings. Obviously, this concept is relevant today, as drunken parties are becoming more of an effect on teenage life. This theme is mostly overused, as is proven by media, and overall teenage influence, because this is a strongly opposed subject. Certainly, the concept of the novel is unique in its own right, and by today’s standards, very relatable by way of many people.
 
The plot was a second part I liked in this novel. The internal conflict was very deep, and one of the most important components in the novel. Melinda often wondered to herself, and really couldn’t speak up for herself much. However, the external conflict acted well with the character portrayed, as such being a quiet and lonely person, who was constantly searching for a place to get away. The book seemed to climax around the end, especially when a scene erupted between a former rival and herself. Uniquely, the book showed me a type a plot I’d never read before, and I think it was a very potent part of the novel.
 
The third part of the novel that I appreciated was the interesting grammar misuse and vocabulary choice. The choice of words were interesting because they seemed a little low leveled in comparison to many other books recommended for teenagers. There is a lot of usage of conversation in the novel, which made for a distinctive way of connecting to the reader by allowing feeling part of the dialogue while reading. The novel is written almost to the point of feeling like another character thanks to the author’s word choice and syntax.
 
Overall, I utterly adored the novel, and I feel as if I can read many times over again. I feel the ending was unclear, but stated perfectly to fit the character’s persona. I recommend to teenagers, young adults, or anyone who has felt unwanted in life or school, as it will help many people relate to the situations in the novel. Melinda Sordino was a relatable and acutely understandable main character who decides to find her voice after being used by friends and family. Through the wonderful use of motivating theme, interesting plot, and unique grammar and vocabulary, Laurie Halse Anderson created one of the most powerful books for its time.
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7 responses

  1. Hello, Ty!

    Great work on your book review. I personally love this book, and enjoyed reading your impression of it. I found a few pros and cons throughout your writing (typing):

    Pros: Your testimony is very believable, and I felt that your review was better for the pure fact that you felt so strongly about it. Your beginning sentence was also very effective, and very attention grabbing. This introduction alone could gain the interest of the types of readers you recommended for the novel. You have a very eloquent speech and voice throughout your writing, too. Your recommendation was great! You were insightful and included the content as well as the emotions from the book that would have drawn certain readers in.

    Cons: I found that although your speech and writing was very nice, you had several unnecessary words and commas in your sentences. Do not be alarmed, this is quite normal for developing writers. We all try to make our writing fancy by adding words and separating phrases with commas, but to save yourself trouble in the future I suggest reading over your writing to see what you could omit while still keeping your writing strong. Also, be sure that you are using enough evidence from the book to support your points. You need to pretend that the reader of your review has never heard of or read the book, so write your descriptions as such.

    Great job, Ty! Excited to hear back from you and read more of your work.

    1. Chloe, I’m glad that you read my review. Thank you! I know I’m just a beginner, and thank you for pointing out my pros and cons.
      In my next essay, I’ll be sure to use less commas, and only use them when necessary. We have been working on improving sentences in my Honors English class. I’ve heard of comma-splice sentences, and I’m not sure if I used any in my book review. If you could provide some tips or pointers about using commas correctly, I’d greatly appreciate it! Once again, thank you for your comment!

      1. Ty,

        It was no problem reading your work! I love that book and enjoyed reading your opinions on it. Commas are tricky to master, and most people tend to overuse them. Even I overuse them sometimes. I think we sometimes do this when we are trying to build larger and more complex sentences with multiple ideas. A “comma-splice” is when a comma separates two sentences, or two independent thoughts. Looking back over your writing, I did notice places where one sentence could have been separated into multiple sentences, like this one:

        “Laurie Halse Anderson perfectly displays regret in her book Speak, which deals with the problems of being unnoticed in life, and never being able to truly express life the way we believe, due to other people troubling our being.”

        However, remember that commas insert pauses into your writing. When you have a bunch of them, it gives your writing a bunch of pauses. If you don’t intend to have these pauses, then the sentence sounds choppy. This passages is an example of excessive amounts of pauses when using commas:

        “Obviously, this concept is relevant today, as drunken parties are becoming more of an effect on teenage life. This theme is mostly overused, as is proven by media, and overall teenage influence, because this is a strongly opposed subject.”

        This passage to a reader sounds a lot how this feels:

        “Obviously, this concept is relevant today, as drunken parties are becoming more of an effect on teenage life. This theme is mostly overused, as is proven by media, and overall teenage influence, because this is a strongly opposed subject.”

        Consider these comments when completing your next draft, and please let me know if this helped clear up any questions you had.

        -Chloe

  2. Ty,

    You did a very good job with this review! You opened it up with questions that really make people think, and you followed up that strong opening with a very clear and concise 3P thesis. Your topic sentences all tie into that 3P thesis, which I know can be hard to do well, and you restate your thesis at the conclusion, tying it all up very nicely.

    However, your transitions could use a little improvement; numerical transitions like first, second, and third are fine, but you’ve displayed so much eloquence in this review, which makes me believe you could do a little better. Transitions don’t have to just be signal words like you’ve used here; if you like, you could end one paragraph with a thought that would tie into the beginning of the next paragraph and make the whole piece flow very smoothly. Also, I didn’t see any direct quotes from the novel itself. There were certainly details from the novel, but a quote or two would really strengthen your review.

    Your overall review was great, though. I loved your recommendation at the end: it was very clear, since you covered a recommended age group and type of person, as well as explaining why they might like or benefit from the novel. I could tell you really put some thought into it, and I could also tell you really enjoyed the book yourself.

    Good work, Ty!

    1. Briana, thank you for reading my book review!
      I will make sure to use transitional words in my next review! I’m not very skilled at using transitional words, and they can sometimes be confusing, and some of your help would be appreciated on transitional words!

  3. Ty,

    Once again, this is a great book review! I haven’t read this book but am very interested in it after reading your review. I enjoyed reading your take on the plot, theme and grammar.

    However, there are a few things that didn’t seem quite right. At the end of your third paragraph, it reads “Uniquely, the book showed me a type a plot I’d never read before, and I think it was a very potent part of the novel.” I believe you meant to say “showed me a type of plot…” The last thing that didn’t seem quite right can be found in the paragraph where you introduce the use of grammar in the book. Did you mean to say “grammar misuse?”

    Everything else was well written and intriguing! Keep up the great work!

    1. Thank you Ashley for the feedback! I will try to make things more clear in future book reviews. We’ve been working on things like correcting sentences in class, and I’m sure I won’t make these mistakes you listed again. Once again, thank you!

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