My cousin, Mary, kindly loaned me a book over Christmas. She was insistent that I read it, as it was all the rage in the teacher's lounge (her husband is a teacher). I was still struggling to catch up in Systematic Theology (still am), but she promised it would be a quick read. Even with a never-ending migraine (the kind you always wanted as a Christmas gift), it really was a quick read.
Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, begins with a high school freshman girl who has become a social outcast overnight. Something traumatic has happened, something she won't talk about, and she gradually just stops talking at all and withdraws almost completely from life. The book is written in first person, diary-like fashion. It's compelling reading and I was drawn in, trying to determine what happened to this poor girl.
It looks as though this is a first novel from this author. She speaks from her heart, partially from her own teenage experience. The passion of angst and rejection comes through strongly and I couldn't put the book down, even with a killer migraine. Yes, I liked this book. I've handed it off to my 14 year old girl, who is in the middle of other books for school (okay, Wuthering Heights is only because she wanted to. Okay, Wuthering Heights is because Bella and Edward kept quoting it in Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)). I'll press in until she reads it, though. Speak definitely addresses the early teen audience, especially the victims of physical and emotional trauma. It's a good read for moms, since we see the main character withdraw and view her parents' response from the child's view point. They don't see the signs of a serious problem, simply addressing her behavior. I caught myself, as I read, thinking about my daughter's behavior, about who she is.
So, if you're a mother of teens or pre-teens, or the grandmother of teens or pre-teens, I recommend picking up this book, reading it first yourself, then handing it off. And please discuss the book with said child afterward. The topic is weighty. But well worth the time and your relationship with your teen.
Until I write again ...