Speak: By Laurie Halse Anderson (Book Review)


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.  

Speak sticks with you.  There are books that you read, enjoy, then place back on your bookshelf to collect dust.  You don’t think about these books again.  You forget the characters, the world, and the beautiful prose.  You forget the emotions you felt while reading the book.  You forget the novel’s message.  It becomes simply another book you gaze at indifferently, having enjoyed being along on its ride, but not really gaining anything from the journey. Speak is not this type of book. You will not forget it. Speak is honest.  Authentic.  Real.  Speak is powerful and sad, yet triumphant.  I read the book two weeks ago and I am still thinking about it.

Speak follows Melinda Sordino, a troubled freshman in high school.  She is haunted by her inner demons which leave her a prisoner trapped in her mind.  When reading the novel, it is obvious that Melinda attains serious problems, but it is not until the middle of the book when you discover what she has endured.  Although Melinda is in a difficult position, this novel is not one big depressing blob.  But rather, Anderson crafts Melinda’s character so she attains a sarcastic and sassy voice.  Although there are moments that you cry for Melinda, there are moments that you laugh because of her wit, and are proud of her when she finally speaks.  Also, throughout the novel, it is wonderful to observe Melinda get stronger.  By the end of the novel she is not a frail little damsel in distress who needs to be saved, but rather, she can save herself because she has started to mend herself back together.

Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing in this novel is superb.  Speak is broken down into short chapters and short paragraphs which make the book seem to fly by.  Also, by organizing the novel in this way, Anderson prevents the audience from being overloaded with emotional content.  Each section has powerful yet sad emotional moments, but since these moments are spread out throughout the chapters it doesn’t feel like any information is dumped on you.

When going into Speak, I knew it discussed heavy issues.  Laurie Halse Anderson is what I would call a quintessential issue writer, meaning that in almost every YA book she writes she writes about problems haunting adolescents.  Although I am not going to say exactly what issue Speak deals with because I don’t want to spoil anyone, Anderson handled and dealt with this issue with honesty and respect.  I personally don’t think I would have responded the same way as Melinda did, but her story was incredibly believable and real.  Melinda’s story is applicable to thousands and thousands of kids and teenagers, so I can only hope that it helps those affected to speak.  Because they need to be heard.  And we need to listen.

Due to this book’s increased popularity, I would be very surprised if you have not read it already, but if you haven’t you must read it.  This is mandatory reading in my opinion.  This novel can teach us so much about people like Melinda and how we can help them.  It teaches us to not make assumptions about anyone because we don’t know what they are suffering from. Or if you are like Melinda, maybe it will help you find your voice, and attain justice.  You deserve it.



The Perks of Being a Wallflower: By Stephen Chbosky (Book Review)

perks of being a wallflower

Charlie is a freshman.

And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Wow!! I couldn’t have picked a better book to start off 2015 with!  This novel perhaps is not only one of the best YA books I have ever read, but one of the best books I have read, period. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is quirky, poignant, and deals with numerous issues.  Chbosky’s novel is not another empty young adult book read merely for entertainment, but rather, it is a profound book which is threaded with themes and messages.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower attains all the fundamentals of a coming of age story.  However, Chbosky expertly depicts the voice of struggling teen, making it stand out against other coming of age stories.  Furthermore, nothing in this novel is distorted by romanticism or unrealistic fantasies, rather, it provides an extremely authentic glimpse into the life of the main character, Charlie.

Charlie is an incredibly unique and insightful main character.  Charlie is an innocent boy who lives a disturbingly unfair life.  He often cries and is emotionally unstable, but Chbosky does not make him weak.  Charlies is not a fragile character who can be shattered into a million pieces, but rather, he is developed as a strong character for not giving up on his life even when the world seems to be fighting against him.  Perusing the book, I knew that Charlie has problems, but when I learned what his issues were I was broken.  I laughed and cried with Charlie along his journey, therefore, it is heartbreaking to see just how cruel the world has been to such an earnest boy.

As a short, concise book, the Perks of Being a Wallflower deals with heavy issues.  I actually cannot think of any problems that were not discussed in this novel.  Chbosky tackles drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, and more all in one book!  I would normally think that there were too many issues crammed into one book, but this novel is an exception.  Chbosky deals with each problem honestly making everything feel real.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is written as a series of letters from Charlie to an anonymous friend over the course of his freshman year. This style of writing made the book faster and easier to read, although it already is super short! Also, it made the novel feel real.  We never learn who this anonymous friend is, thus, it feels like Charlie is specifically writing to his readers. Moreover, I loved observing how Charlie’s writing actually improved from the start to end of the novel.  It is these small details that Chbosky includes that make this novel so stupendous.

Overall, I think EVERYONE should read this book.  I know I will read it time and time again, picking up on something new each time.  If you haven’t already done so you must pick up this book now!


My Top 5 Favorite Books of 2014

1.  Ignite Me by: Tahereh Mafi

ignite me

Ignite Me is the third book in the marvelous Shatter Me trilogy, which follows Juliette, a girl with a lethal touch.  Since Ignite Me is the last  book in the series I am hesitant to give away much information about it because I don’t want to spoil anyone, but it was AMAZING! I loved it so much that I read it three or four times this year! I could always count on it to get me out of my reading slumps, therefore, it is no surprise that it was my favorite book of the year! Ignite Me is a neglect all your responsibilities and put down whatever you are doing right now kind of book! First, it not only is action packed, but it has hands down the most beautiful prose I have read in young adult literature.  Also, we spend a lot of time with WERNER in this novel, need I say anything else?  (As a side note, if you are reading the Shatter Me series, you must read the novella Destroy Me that comes between Shatter Me and Unravel Me because it is ESSENTIAL if you want to truly understand Werner’s character)

2.   Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Opposition was the last book I read in 2014, and what a FANTASTIC book to end the year reading!  Opposition is the last book in the Lux series, which follows Katy, a book blogger who moves across the street from a family of uber attractive aliens. Of course a relationship with a hot alien, Daemon, ensues! Their relationship had me hooked! I feel like I could read about these characters forever, and its so sad that this is the last book ever to be written about them.  But don’t you worry if you don’t like romance ruling the plot, because Opposition is also extremely action packed and has twists I never saw coming!

3.  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe By Benjamin Alire Saenz

aristotle and dante

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a moving story about friendship, family, culture, and coming to terms with who you are.  This novel essentially does not have a plot, but rather it simply follows Aristotle as he lives out his life.  There were so many aspects of this book which I adored.  First, in YA literature, the parents of the main character are often horrible people or absent from their kid’s life, so I found it refreshing that a main character had supportive parents who deeply cared for him.  Also, both Aristotle and Dante are Mexican, so this novel explores Mexican culture, which I loved!  Lastly, the ending was perfect.  Absolutely magical! (I did a review on his book in August so you can go see the review if you want to learn more information on it)

4. The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

retribution of mara dyer

The Retribution of Mara Dyer is the third novel in the Mara Dyer series, and what a conclusion it is! The Mara Dyer series follows a haunted girl, Mara Dyer, who wakes up one morning in a hospital and cannot remember the accident which killed all of her friends, but left her mysteriously unharmed. Mara suffers from severe post traumatic stress disorder after this accident, so you are left constantly guessing if what she is observing is actually happening or if she is just hallucinating.  I waited years for this last book to come out and it did not disappoint me!  A lot of people have problems with this novel and say that there were numerous plot holes in it, and while I can understand that, I typically rate books on how much I enjoyed them as I was reading it, and this one had me hooked! It may not be a perfect book, but it was action packed, kept me on the edge of my seat, and had a killer romance!

5.  All the Light We Cannot See By Anthony Doerr

all the light we cannot see

All The Light We Cannot See is an adult historical fiction novel set during World War II.  It follows two characters, Maurie Laurie, a blind French girl, and Werner, a young German boy preparing to become a Nazi soldier.  Through riveting flash-forwards and flashbacks, the novel follows the course of the two characters’ as they struggle trying to live their own lives without the interference of their bleak setting.  This story is almost written in threads, and it is not until the very end that you can see how Maruie and Werner’s stories thread together.  All the Light We Cannot See is a touching, well-crafted, and gorgeously written story, that I can’t wait to go back to and re read.