(while I’m on vacation, I’m republishing some old book reviews from 18+ months ago at my now-defunct blog. Enjoy.)

speak was loaned to my by a friend who’s in library school, and who recently took a course in young adult literature. She’s the one who loaned me Weetzie Bat too. I had a conflicted reaction to this book. It was a powerful and convincing presentation of what it’s like to be an outcast, to be shunned by former friends, to feel disconnected from one’s parents, and to be generally adrift in high school. In general the writing is really good. But the central “secret” of the story was so insultingly obvious to me, I had some involuntary eye-rolling. And there’s a triumphant confrontation scene near the end of the book that felt totally unbelievable – it was the exact thing you’d wish would happen, not what ever actually does happen, so it felt opposed to the otherwise realistic and believable action. I mean, you want the main character to triumph over her trauma, but this scene felt so fake.

I remember being a teenager and thinking that adults just didn’t understand what was important to me. I wonder if I’m now becoming that type of adult – I’m not sure I can properly judge this book because I don’t know if I really remember enough of what it was like to be that age. Maybe its flaws are only evident to me because of my age, and how many books I’ve read, and how many literature classes I’ve taken. If I were fourteen, it’s quite possible I would have loved this book unreservedly.

Recommended probably for teens, and those who are interested in contemporary teen literature