"Speak up for yourself--we want to know what you have to say." From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her.
As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication.
In Laurie Halse Anderson's powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.
I thought this book was nicely written and I liked Melinda, the main character. The thing I liked most about her was her sarcastic humor. I found myself chuckling at the things she said or thought throughout the novel, which is not something I expected considering the novel's heavy content. Ultimately, I think this story is about healing and reclaiming your voice.
It was a fast read and the story sustained my attention throughout. It does deal with some sensitive issues but is not graphic in any way, and is appropriately written for the young adult age group. I think the book's message - the importance of speaking up/the consequences of silence - came across nicely through Melinda's story and is an important message for young adults. Overall, a worthwhile read.