I have read one other Laurie Halse Anderson novel, Wintergirls, both Wintergirls and Speak have a way of grabbing me by the heart strings and making me believe I am in the story. There is something about the way Anderson writes that makes me believe I am Melinda (actually my name IS Malinda...) or in the case of Wintergirls, makes me believe I have an eating disorder because I am that dang wrapped up in the story. (True story, I had to eat a 10 piece Chicken Nugget from Mickey D's to convince myself otherwise.)While reading Speak I found myself...not speaking. Seriously, I was that into the mindset of Melinda that I stopped really saying much to my family. I had to keep taking breaks in order to come back to reality. Sort of like when you play Sims for too many hours. (Once I played Sims 2 for so long that I kept trying thinking I needed to give my husband commands to make him do stuff...and Sims 3 is so much worse HaHa...I keep wanting to use the "motherlode" cheat when I need to buy something. Anyways back to the review.) I checked this out from the library because I figured it was high time I experienced what most high school English classes are examining as part of their assigned reading. I went to high school in a small town and we didn't read things like Speak...we stuck to the older classics and Animal Farm. I wish I was a high school student again just so I could have someone to discuss this book with...indepth and for many hours. You know how people say there is a difference between showing and telling in a novel? Well this definitely showed more than told. Definitely well worth the time spent reading. The characters were appealing, the subject matter was touching, and the voice or lack there of in the heroine's case was moving. Melinda came across as a very troubled and emotionally shattered young woman. She found herself lost, and no one seemed to care. Now I know some would say that there is no way a girl could exhibit these signs of distress without someone noticing and trying to get to the root of the problem. That is not always true. Young adults slip through the cracks everyday because people can't tell who is just a moody teenager and who is showing signs of depression, mental illness, or any other emotional/physical trauma. It happens every single day....every single minute....every single second. And the heartbreaking thing is that it doesn't just happen with children and young adults...it happens with mature adults, senior citizens....even our animals. That is what makes this book so mind-blowing....because we all could end up like Melinda. (Maybe not experiencing exactly what she did but experiencing some sort of trauma.)All I can say is I am very happy I read this book. And it will be one of the first books I recommend to anyone who asks.