Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Honestly at first, I was a little disappointed in how “emotion-less” the main character was—until I realized that my wrongful judgment was getting in the way of the reality that something horrific happened to a 13-year-old girl and shutting down is the only way she could survive. In that respect, the author did a brilliant job of portraying a young victim who had no idea how to process what happened to her, which was combined with being an instant outcast and losing all her friends when she needed them the most.
We don’t all react to abuse in the same way, especially during our prime developmental stages in life when we look to adults that we trust to keep us safe.
Her downward spiral then became heartbreaking, and I went from wishing she had the courage to say something to anger at all of the people around her – her friends, her parents, her teachers – basically, anyone who could see something was off. Where was her support system? Who was there to check in on this young girl to see why she might have gone mute all of a sudden, or bite her lips to the point of bleeding, or allowed her grades to falter?
Hello, adults! Where were you?
It was no wonder that Melinda could not find the right words to express the trauma she had been through. No one was paying attention. No one evn asked her why she took certain actions, such as calling the cops or no longer speaking. So, why would she think anyone would listen?
When she finally found the courage to take action, it was a beautiful, well-worth-the-wait moment of empowerment.
I loved how this book showed the handling of a traumatic, abusive event from a completely different reaction than I’m used to seeing, and it was a powerful lesson about how we all take in, process, and react to abusive situations in a multitude of ways. There are too many Melindas out there who sink into to silence, too afraid to speak, too easy to self-blame, and it’s time that we have more awareness of the signs so that we can be a light that helps to lead them back out of their darkness.
To learn more about the author and her book: https://madwomanintheforest.com/
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