Thursday, February 26, 2009

Let's Talk About Speak I

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Penguin is doing a special promo for it (including a 10th anniversary edition!) and Lenore and I decided to take part by doing a special tandem feature. This is Part 1 - we have more to come.

If you're interested in purchasing Speak (and you should be, it's a fantastic book), I found a $3.99 bargain edition (new and everything) on Amazon here. There's also the 10th Anniversary edition (mentioned above) here, for you collector folks ;)

Here's the handy table of contents so you can follow along in order:

Part 1 Steph and Lenore speak up about Speak (at Reviewer X)
Part 2: Steph and Lenore speak up about Speak (continued) (at Presenting Lenore)
[more surprises will be added on!]

So, here goes!

Steph: I'm going to start this whole shebang by reprimanding you, my friend. Actually, REPRIMANDING is too weak: I should be SPANKING you. Why had you NOT READ THIS SOONER?! And what was your overall impression now that you have?

Lenore: Hey, at least I FINALLY bought it and read it right? I don’t know. I knew it was well loved by many, banned by some, described as "that rape book", or compared to Sarah Dessen's Just Listen (which is sitting on my shelf, waiting patiently to be read). I was prepared for the dark parts of the narrative: the feelings of hopelessness, the cruelty of high school. I wasn’t surprised by Melinda’s depression, but I was surprised how much humor there was throughout. I am thinking about the darkly funny holiday scenes (that poor turkey!) or the political correctness absurdity of the school mascot scenes. It’s a fine line to walk in an “issue” book, but Anderson pulls it off brilliantly.

Steph: So basically, you're a fangirl?
Lenore: Fangirl doesn't really seem like a reverent enough term for this novel somehow - so I'd say I'm an evangelist. When did you first read it? What were your first impressions?

Steph: Hallellujah! I have this habit of reading hyped books really quickly which in turn makes me miss some of the meaning in the process. When I first read SPEAK, I was like, "Huh." I set it down. Then I returned to it two weeks later and reread it, calmly this time, and...well. One way of putting it is: Soon as I'm legal, I'm getting a tattoo to show my love.

Lenore: Wow - that's pretty permanent. So would you say this is one of your favorite books ever then? And what is that makes it so special in your eyes?

Steph: Well, I don't know if I'll actually get a tattoo. It'd be pretty unreadable by Age Geriatric. But, I would have to say that, YES, I love it. The reasons are a bit more complex: writing that doesn't get weighed down by the subject matter; Melinda's way of conveying her horrible experience in a sensible, poignant way; and, finally, how hopeful the book ends up being.

Basically, this book's potential to touch a million people individually. It's universal and unique, and that's awesome.

Lenore: I know what you mean. I'm not a teen anymore, but there is so much I can relate too. I think about that scene near the beginning when Melinda enters the cafeteria and panics because she's not sure where she should sit. You can't sit alone in high school. Everyone knows that. But it doesn't get any easier when you get older either. I've gone to client parties where I am expected to socialize even though I don't know a soul. It can be scary and intimidating, especially when everyone is in their little cliques and you have to go in somewhere and break the ice.

What part could you really relate to?

Continue reading at Presenting Lenore.

19 comments:

girlonthepark said...

I will have to add this to my reading list! Someone mentioned the movie version of this to me recently (it stars the girl from Twilight) and I remember thinking I should track down the book so thank you for jogging my memory!

Reverie said...

oh goodness the book is so much better than the movie. please avoid movie!!!

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I just read Speak for the first time last year and then my husband and I watched the movie. Both were really good! Laurie Halse Anderson is coming to a signing where I live next month and I am SO excited!! Will take photos and blog about it of course!

bermudaonion said...

I guess I need to buy that bargain edition because I haven't read this one either.

Cheryl & Amber said...

10 years....seriously? I remember getting this book from the library about well...almost 10 years ago I guess. It's such an amazing book, still one of my favorites to this day. I lost my copy a while back, but now that there is an anniversay edition, more reason to buy right? lol

--Amber

Shalonda said...

I cannot believe it has been 10 years!

I first read this as an assignment for a YA lit class and absolutely loved it! I have since reread it and included it in my classroom library.

In fact, I love it so much that I just bought a new copy last week because my other one was looking a little raggedy! Too bad I didn't know Amazon had a bargain book available.

Katie said...

I read this not too long ago and liked it a lot. I really enjoyed hearing our thoughts on it!

H said...

I had no idea there was a movie! Hmm, I can't see it being done that well, it's more of a psychological book than an action book if you get what I'm saying.

Sadako said...

Loved her art teacher--he was totally insane, but at the same time, he was the one adult character who made sense to me.

I saw the movie on TV a while ago, on LifeTime. Not all of it, but it was actually pretty good, especially compared to most movies based on books. (And on LifeTime.)

Staci said...

Loving this feature that you and Lenore have going on!! The library I work at removed this book from the shelves 2 years ago (I was working at a different school bldg while this occured)I have since put this book BACK on the shelves where it deserves to be and have had some pretty wonderful conversations with the students who have read it!! I am a LHA fan big time!!!!!

Laughing Corpse said...

Hi, if you like what you heard about this book. head on over to my blog were i'm hosting a contest for. just follow and wait for details.

mari said...

I read this in January for the first time. It is definitely a favorite so far this year. I found the movie on YouTube in parts if anyone is interested. I thought it was pretty good.

Alea said...

Yes I must read.....

Erika Lynn said...

i'm scared of getting yelled at but I haven't read this yet either. but this chat is great and I will def read it ASAP

susan said...

Is anyone one going to discuss the trauma of rape and the aftermath?

Is anyone going to address any flaws or issues with the text?

Anonymous said...

Susan -- Steph's last line on her blog was... "What part could you really relate to?"

If the posts are not to your liking in discussing the aftermath of being raped it is perhaps because not everyone that loves the book has had THAT particular (thank God) experience to "relate to."

For others maybe the book's humor or the lonliness it portrays is their point of reference for the book.

If you think the text has flaws maybe you should express what you think they are and that might lead to the discussion you want.

Elizabeth said...

I'm with both of you on loving, and being intensely impressed by, this book.

ReviewerX, that was a great articulation of why (I especially like how you put it about the writing not being bogged down by the subject matter), and Lenore, I am so with you on the humor. The portrayal of absurdity of high school is one of the things I remember very strongly from this book.

Great idea for a post series!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Awesomee. I really do love this book. I finally got a used copy of this book. The 10th anniversary edition would be awesome to get at some point though. It's insane that it's been 10 years though!!

And I really did like the film. Saw it a long time...first thing I saw Kristen in.

-Lauren

writerjenn said...

Sometimes when people ask what is "essential reading" in current YA, I prepare a mental list. SPEAK is always on it.

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