Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson I did like this, although not as much as I expected given the praise I'd heard, partly I think because I was cued to what the book was about going in, but also because I felt a little let down coming out. The book is written as if it’s the school year journal of Melinda Sordino, who entering her first year of high school is a pariah because she called the cops on a end-of-summer party. It’s in this witty Buffy-esque voice and in this first-person present tense with spare declarative sentences I seem to have come across all too much lately. Although unlike the case with those other recently read books with Hemingway-esque prose styles, I wasn’t thrown out by it, because the voice seemed to suit the bright, adolescent Melinda. The novel also did make me want to bitch-slap more than one character on Melinda’s behalf--and that’s good writing. And really, it’s hard not to give high marks to a book that so vividly transported me back to the hell that is high school with its cliques, bullies, and betrayals. Mr Freeman, the art teacher, particularly reminded me of a teacher I once had--although unlike Melinda, not a fan. I dearly wished my teacher would actually have taught us something such as perspective, drawing and painting technique rather than give advice like Mr Freeman’s “Be the tree.” And the metaphor of Melinda’s attempts at that tree did seem a bit blatant to me, but then I’m not a teenager and thus not the target audience for this. One thing that I think blunted the impact was a preface “Listen” added to the 12th anniversary edition. Composed with “lines and words taken from the thousands of letters and emails” in response to the book, it telegraphed the Big Reveal right up front--one that was only hinted at in the novel until well over the half way mark. I don’t know how early I might have glommed on otherwise, but I wish I had been allowed to discover Melinda’s secret myself the way the original readers did--through the story. And as for the ending--it just felt a little too easy, too pat for me after all that had gone before. Still, this handles a painful subject with sensitivity and skill--and it’s a fast, gripping read.