Friday, July 31, 2009

This post is a bit of a departure from my usual... or maybe, in a way, it isn't at all. But either way it has been banging around in my head for awhile trying to get out, so here goes...

Awhile ago I set out on a quest through young adult literature looking for books to share with the son of one of my dearest friends. This young man is 14 years old, I just love him to pieces, his life has been difficult, to say the least, and I wanted a way to connect with him more and maybe provide guidance of a sort. Books have always held unexpected answers for me as well as providing me with an escape from my reality, so it was books that I turned to for this wonderful young man. My journey is ongoing and I have come across some books that I think will be great for my friend's son, what I didn't expect to find, however, was a book that held some pieces of myself, of one of my former selves. I wasn't looking for answers for myself, and I'm not sure that that is what I inadvertently found, but this book that fell into my life (twice in one week, in fact) did hold something that I didn't know I was missing. I don't have a name for what I found, but I am glad that I found it.

The book that held all these unexpected piece of myself is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Many of you are probably familiar with this book, but for some reason I was not. And Speak has been sitting in my room (and a second copy downstairs... I have two somehow) for a couple of weeks staring at me, literally as the cover has eyes on it, and demanding that I say something about it.

Speak tells the story of Melinda who experienced a trauma over the summer and as she enters high school, as a freshman outcast with no friends, she slowly becomes selectively mute. As the story unfolds we first suspect and later have confirmed just what her trauma was, why she has become an outcast, why she chooses not to speak, and then, ultimately, why and how she finds the strength to find her voice. It is beautifully written, I cried though much of it and then rejoiced with Melinda as she started to piece her life back together. There are many things about Melinda that I do not really identify with, but there are some other things that scream out from my past through her. This book probably holds, at least in some small way, pieces of all of us, but I needed Melinda. She, somehow, cracked open old wounds and helped heal them both at the same time. And all this came when I wasn't looking for it, when I didn't expect it... strange how that sometimes works isn't it?

And so there you have it, not really my typical post but Melinda is appeased and has stopped knocking around in my skull. If you read, or have read, Speak I hope that you come away with a little something, I think it would be hard not to. There are many things in the world these days that could make us want to hide and not speak, but even on the rainiest day, there are also things and people who give us the courage to stop hiding and find our voices.