Every year around BBW, it seems like there's a big outcry over some book or other. (Anybody else remember The Higher Power of Lucky getting pulled out of circulation by a librarian because of the use of the word "scrotum"?) This year all my blogs and sources are pointing out the debate over Laurie Halse Anderson's book, Speak. Since the original article (linked to in Anderson's blog entry), which scorned the book as "soft pornography," there have been very many responses from the writing community.
Naturally that made me want to read it.
I sat down with it and read it straight through, beginning to end, a rare perfect book. It moved along so smoothly and convincingly that I could not put it down. It did remind me of the worst of my middle school and high school experiences. I was utterly captivated by the main character, Melinda, and her freshman year.
So, as far as this blog is concerned, this isn't strictly (or even loosely) a fairy tale adaptation. And yet... and yet... What are fairy tales but stories to help us understand things? Which this book most certainly is. And there were enough fairy tale references to more than satisfy me--Anderson drew on the dark aspects of some well-known tales, giving her book more than a little Grimm flavor. Even so, she is true to the voice of the American high school student, writing in a fluid, contemporary voice.
I hope you'll read this book. It's a beautiful, truthful book. It's a shame that anyone would find this book offensive--it's not a comfortable read, and yet it deals with one of the harshest realities in our society with uplifting grace and eloquence.