June 1, 2010

Laurie Halse Anderson


Laurie Halse Anderson's first novel, Speak tells the story of Melinda, rendered mute because of a traumatic incident during summer vacation. Shunned by the entire school, she retreats to an abandoned janitor's closet in hope of finding solace. 
Anderson expertly captures the particular hell of high school through Melinda's darkly humorous and sarcastic thoughts. The authenticity of place and character has made Anderson a favourite author for many teens. Although her subject matter is often disturbing, her characters' strengths and resilience are much admired, which make for repeated readings. 

Kate Malone is very good at keeping her emotions hidden, or so she thinks. But her meticulously ordered life is thrown into chaos when her neighbours, the Litches, are left homeless after a fire. Now Teri Litch, a former bully, and her little brother Mikey are sharing Kate's room. Teri and Mikey are the catalysts that shake Kate out of her self-centeredness and force her to consider other people's problems, not just her own.
Kate is not as interesting as Melinda (Speak), nor as likeable. She has some unresolved issues with her deceased mother and a distant father that are not adequately dealt with. But Anderson clearly shows that life for the popular student is not always easy.

A slave named Isabel desperately tries to win her freedom while acting as a spy for the rebels. The gripping, fast-moving plot makes this book hard to put down. 

Anderson includes a helpful appendix which answer questions about the Revolutionary War and the events in the story. A sequel, Forge,will be published in October 2010.
Read Laurie Halse Anderson's blog at http://halseanderson.livejournal.com/.

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