First sentence: It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache.
Premise/plot: In To Kill A Mockingbird, Scout receives some great advice from her father.
"First of all," he said, "if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--"Speak invites readers to "climb into the skin" of a victim of sexual assault and "walk around in it." But whether you've been there yourself or not--Melinda, our heroine--is worth getting to know. Her story is powerful and compelling.
"--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." (30)
My thoughts: I think Speak should be required reading for any adult who is working with teens or who plans to work with teens. As for requiring it for teens within the classroom setting, I'm not so sure. For one, any time a book is required it loses its power. If you "have" to read it, then it strips away most of your natural inclinations to like it. I certainly never "liked" any of my assigned reading. The message of Speak might lose its resonance if it is forced. Especially if it is dissected and analyzed for hidden messages and symbolism. That being said, I do feel it's a true must-read. And it does have much that would be discussion-worthy.
What do I love about Speak? Well, it's authentic. And it's thought-provoking. If you're an adult, it makes you remember (or is prone to making you remember) your own high school days. Rather those days were painful and you're still a bit bitter or if you were one of the rare who actually remember high school "as the best time of your life." It's all in the details. The small things. The small daily interactions of how you relate with others, and how they relate to you. All the little things that add up to create the big picture. I didn't read it as a teen. The book was published when I was in college. But I would hope that the book would help those teens who are going through some of these situations not feel so alone, so isolated. I would hope that they'd feel understood. And for those teens that are bullies, I hope that the book would make them think about their actions a little more, take time to think about how these "little" things are adding up to big-time misery for those that are 'beneath' them. I'm not naive enough to think that this book will have the same impact on every one who reads it. It is just one book after all. But I hope that those who do read it, it will have a strong enough impact that the story will stay with them for a while.
I have entered high school with the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, the wrong attitude. (4)
The first ten lies they tell you in highschool
1. We are here to help you.
2. You will have enough time to get to your class before the bell rings.
3. The dress code will be enforced.
4. No smoking is allowed on school grounds.
5. Our football team will win the championship this year.
6. We expect more of you here.
7. Guidance counselors are always available to listen.
8. Your schedule was created with your needs in mind.
9. Your locker combination is private.
10. These will be the years you look back on fondly. (6)
Mr. Neck makes a note in his book. "I knew you were trouble the first time I saw you. I've taught here for twenty-four years and I can tell what's going on in a kid's head just by looking in their eyes. No more warnings. You just earned a demerit for wandering the halls without a pass." (9)
Homework is not an option. My bed is sending out serious nap rays. I can't help myself. The fluffy pillows and warm comforter are more powerful than I am. I have no choice but to snuggle under the covers. (16)
It's Nathaniel Hawthorne Month in English. Poor Nathaniel. Does he know what they've done to him? We are reading The Scarlet Letter one sentence at a time, tearing it up and chewing on its bones. (100)
It is easier to floss with barbed wire than admit you like someone in middle school. (108)
Guidance Counselor: "I think we need to explore the family dynamics at play here."
Mother: "She's jerking us around to get attention."
Me: [inside my head] Would you listen? Would you believe me? Fat chance. (114)
Mr. Freeman: "Art without emotion is like chocolate cake without sugar. It makes you gag." (122)
Ten More Lies They Tell You In High School
1. You will use algebra in your adult lives.
2. Driving to school is a privilege that can be taken away.
3. Students must stay on campus for lunch.
4. The new textbooks will arrive any day now.
5. Colleges care about more than your SAT scores.
6. We are enforcing the dress code.
7. We will figure out how to turn off the heat soon.
8. Our bus drivers are highly trained professionals.
9. There is nothing wrong with summer school.
10. We want to hear what you have to say. (148)
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews