In Speak by Laurie Anderson, We are introduced to a 9th grade girl named Melinda. After a party that ended in her calling the cops, and becoming the outcast in Merriweather High School, we are taken on a journey of internal conflict that Melinda is dealing with. As if High School isn’t already difficult enough Melinda Finds hersel with no friends, struggling academics, and a family support system that understands her. As Melinda lets us on her journey, it is the conversation that Melinda sets up with the reader that is important to note. This conversation brings on relatability, which is a characteristic in literature.
Conversation in novels, adds personality and intimacy between the reader and protagonist. Because Melinda lets the reader in closely to her broken relationships she has with her friends and family members it begins to build a sense of belonging, as well as relatability. Although the issues presented in this book, as well as the age of the characters classifies this book as young adult, the qualities that classify children’s literature can be extended here as well.The issue of relatability can most certainly be atrributed to Speak. While, not all of her personal struggles can be extended to every reader, the reality is that a large majority of them can. Melinda struggles to find friends, her parents are not as receptive to her and her ideas and often leave her to fend for herself. Transitioning into high school, students often feel that it is difficult for them to be able to adjust. This internal conlict and conversation allows the readers to be able to relate to Melinda in that sense.
As the story unfolds, the novel addresses some very tough issues. Some that may be difficult for many people to read, but when putting in context of the age of the audience readers, it addresses these issues at a time that is important for young readers to become aware. Similar to Bud not Buddy, in its addressing difficult topics in children’s literature, we come to the issue of whether this story is age appropriate. I would have to agree with the same stance that I took with Bud not Buddy in saying that while it is difficult the topic still deserves mentioning. Speak speaks to issues young adults are facing and could possibly face. Using conversation to draw relationships between the reader and the character, and relatability to keep the young readers engaged. Speak gives a voice to young adult readers nationwide.