So today’s post is my official contribution to Banned Books Week. I am excited to participate in an event being hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey. Basically, encouraging people to read books that have been frequently challenged or banned over the years. Check back daily for the next week, as she will be posting new blogs with giveaways all week! For more information on books that have been frequently challenged, check out ALA’s website: Frequently Challenged Books . What banned books do you love?
So I mulled over some of the books on the list for a little bit, and though I thought I might read something new-to-me, I ended up with Speak. I originally read Speak about 10-12 years ago when I was still in high school myself. This was before my days of reviewing and… I thought that there was something wrong with the fact that I had yet to write a review for one of my favorite books of all time.
Speak is a young adult novel about a high school freshman named Malinda. She is the type of girl that you can see from the beginning of the novel that just doesn’t seem to fit in. Silence envelopes her Freshman year at Merryweather High School. Her social life is in ruins, along with her family life, as well as her whole being emotionally. She doesn’t have sleepovers, or go out on dates. She is in a constant state of feeling out of place.
Speak is divided up into four parts: basically, the first, second, third, and fourth marking period in the school year. It is told in the first person, which I think gave the words more of an impact. It is full of monologues because, although Malinda does not speak in public, she has a lot to say. You aren’t just seeing that she is silent, or seeing that she is struggling or an outcast. She is speaking of the impact. And my heart broke for her. I wanted to reach out to her, shake her, and tell her that she is not alone. That is the impact that her words had on me.
“It’s easier not to say anything. Shut your trap, button your lip, can it. All that crap you hear on TV about communication and expressing feelings is a lie. Nobody really wants to hear what you have to say.”
I found that although Speak deals with sensitive subject matter, and although Malinda is edged with cynicism and anger, that I found her to be a very real character. I like when the main character is real, and with flaws. Not always perfectly polished at the edges. Mr. Freeman was the one character that I did not want to roll my eyes at, or scream at for making Malinda’s life hell. He was the kind of teacher that I want my (future) children to have when they are in high school. I was lucky enough to have an English teacher when I was a senior in high school, that reminds me so much of Mr. Freeman. In the approach to what he teaches, in not speaking down to his students. And in wanting them to express themselves.
“Mr Freeman: “Art without emotion is like chocolate cake without sugar. It makes you gag.” He sticks his finger down his throat. “The next time you work on your trees, don’t think about trees. Think about love, or hate, or joy, or pain- whatever makes you feel something, makes your palms sweat, or your toes curl. Focus on that feeling.
When people don’t express themselves, they die on piece at a time. You’d be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside- walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer or a mack truck to come along and finish the job. It’s the saddest thing I know.”
It is impossible to explain Speak in the words that I really want to. To write the kind of review that would actually give this book justice. Because then, you would know the entire story. And it would take away from your reading experience. But this book is a must-read. It is real. And moving. And heart-breaking. And frustrating. And a total cacophony of emotions.
Along with my review, I am also offering a book giveaway of Speak, or another banned or challenged book under $15 at The Book Depository.
However, I just found out that rafflecopter doesn’t work on WordPress. So: one entry will be given for a blog post, another will be given for following my e-mail, a third will be given for follow me on twitter: @thebookienook, and a fourth entry if you tweet about the giveaway on Twitter. I do hope to be able to find a better way to do this next time. But, I will be choosing a winner using random.org this time.
Make sure in your blog post that you mention how you are following, and if you tweeted about the giveaway. Good luck!