Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Melinda Sordino enters high school as a social pariah and is ostracized by her peers who don’t know her dark secret– they only know the she called the police to a summer party. Now Melinda is silent, unable to “speak” (even though she is technically a selective mute). This story is about her road to confession. She finds a way to express herself through Mr. Freeman’s art class and turns a secret janitor’s closet into a shrine to art, safe haven, and a home away from home.

Written as vignettes, the story only emphasizes certain events (sometimes with large gaps in between) which can make it feel like a choppy read, but the visceral imagery makes the reader suffer with Melinda and root for her empowerment.I would not read this without asking someone to talk to. When I read it the summer between 4th and 5th grade, I had nightmares, so I suggest having a reading buddy, a parent, or other adult be there for you in case you need help coping with this tough story.

There is also a good movie version starring Kristen Stewart (before Twilight) as Melinda Sordino.

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