Though it has been over 5 years since I read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, I will never forget it. Ever. My mind tends to gloss over the "less desirable" parts of movies or books and usually remembers only the "happy things" clearly. However, since the topic of this book is about a high school girl, Melinda, who almost completely stops functioning as a human being after being raped by a school mate at an end-of-the-summer party and is taunted daily at school by the upperclassman who did it, the plot is stuck fast in my brain. The healing that Melinda must go through to be able to speak up about what happened to her is beyond immense (and it doesn't even start until the end of the book) and the reader can't help but go through each emotion with her. One of the most painful lasting physical effects that I always think about is what Melinda does to her lips (rather than speak) - she chews on them until the skin becomes broken and bloody. I cannot imagine having words to say, those words being on my lips, but out of fear not being able to say them and instead biting my lips and holding the words in. But I've never been though a situation like that.
Anderson's book has recently been attacked in Missouri as being, well, a phrase that I probably shouldn't use on a blog associated with my job. To get an idea of what's going on see Anderson's blog.
These kinds of things always seem more noticeable around Banned Books Week (September 25-October 2), but this is what some people call "a hill I would die on." Speak is one of those titles that goes beyond the debate about whether or not its approach to the subject matter outweighs the subject matter itself. This book is the kind that lets people who have gone through what Melinda does know that they are not alone, and it also lets the rest of us know how awful this problem (rape) is so that [hopefully] we can help make a difference.