Age Level: 8th grade & up
# of Pages: Paperback 198 pages
Publisher: Penguin Group (1999)
Kristen Stewart and Michael Angarano starred in the 2003 adaptation of this book directed by Jessica Sharzer.
High school is hard enough for teens but add to it the drama of losing friends and causing the “it party” of the summer to be crashed and you are destined for disaster. Melinda Sordino begins her school year just like that. She gets on the bus and no one will sit with her, she goes through the school day and no one will talk to her and she finds it easier to stay quiet than speak. Melinda was the cause of the party to be broken up and a few of the party goers to be arrested. No one knows why she called the police and if they did, she fears they wouldn’t believe her anyway. Being raped by a popular senior when you are an upcoming freshman in high school isn’t something that most would believe anyway, right? The trauma that she is forced to deal with daily is the cause of her silence. Melinda goes through her school year without uttering a word and facing the constant harassment of her classmates only to find some solstice in her art class. Melinda finds her outlet in art and through her teacher and eventually finds her voice again.
Laurie Halse Anderson does an amazing job showing how tragedy can take you down one of many roads; in this case it is the path of self preservation. I loved this book for many reasons. I love that Melinda is the scapegoat in this book and that readers are forced to look at all scapegoats in a different light. It is easy to place blame and continue to think of the person who broke up the party, got us caught doing what we weren’t supposed to be doing anyway, or any number of things. Yet they may have a reason behind it all and are suffering more than we realize underneath it all. Melinda’s metamorphosis throughout the book is laced with gritty realism, symbolism, and so much more. The writing, tone, and style are unlike most and that makes it an even more fascinating read. The writing completely sucks you in and you are able to feel Melinda’s pain and triumph in the novel. This is definitely a must read for all teens!!