Monday, February 18, 2008

Recommended: Speak

Periodically, people recommend books that actually sound interesting. More often, people recommend books that sound perfectly hideous, and I tend to smile and nod and forget the title and author as quickly as I can. Every once in a while, though, something strikes my interest and I put the book on my list. At the beginning of the year, I took my list and ordered them all. I thought I'd tell you about some of the ones I read and what I thought of them.

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, was brought to my attention by James, and sounded like an easy read, if not an easy subject. It only took a couple of pages to figure out what had happened at the party last summer. So, while the story seemed to be trying to accomplish some big surprise ending, that part of it didn't work. However, the rest of the story really gets you into our protagonist's, Melinda's, head, and that makes the whole read valuable and even enjoyable.

After the "party incident", Melinda retreats into her own mind. She loses all her friends and starts to fall way behind in school. She won't talk to anyone, not to peers, not teachers, not her family. She has no one that really sees or notices how much she's changed since last year in the "before". Her only sort-of-friend is a new girl who moved in this year. She has all new teachers. Her parents are much too self-absorbed to notice anything about her personality changes. So, she is left to her own devices, and they aren't really enough. Through some caring teachers and some well-placed graffiti, she finds that she must give voice to the secret she's carried all year, leading to a triumphant turnaround in her life.

It's an interesting read, especially since so many people are the victims of the myriad varieties of sex-based crimes. I would imagine that a lot of people would draw strength to share their own stories based on a book like this. The more stories people hear, the more likely they are to see the signs of such a sad situation for what they are. Not everyone reacts to such an experience in the way our character did here, but it's one more reaction to add to your known list of "symptoms" for the sufferer.


Anonymous said...

The sad/funny thing is, I could go on and on about fonts that I feel strongly for or against, but I would literally waste hours typing.

The other night, I actually had to ask a waiter to come back after a few minutes, because I was so distracted by the horrible use of Sand and Comic Sans on the otherwise well-designed menu that I couldn't concentrate on the menu items.

My font-related advice to people who want to be "real" designers is this: Don't use ANY of the decorative fonts that came with your computer. There are thousands of free or cheap fonts available online that are far more unique and interesting than Comic Sans or Sand.

Heather said...

Oh look -- my graphic design friend appears -- and, surprise surprise, has font opinions. :)

You might should see Helvetica.

James said...

I'm glad you liked it. Reading your post, I realized that none of my kids are reading it. Then I checked the shelf and found it had been stolen. I guess it's good enough to steal.

Heather said...

James -- if yours was stolen, would you like me to send you mine? I'm done with it now. :)

James said...

I appreciate it, but I've already ordered another one. Donate yours to a local school.

Heather said...

I can do that.