Reposting my response to a current discussion at Presenting Lenore's about the novel, Speak and including my original review.
Book Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The discussion of this book is a great opportunity to discuss what a reader brings to read and how own personal experiences color our perceptions.
While Anderson did not set out to make a point, the central issue of this book is about the aftermath of rape.
I believe the rape comes off as a subtext for two reasons: 1)because that is how Melinda processes it. The subtext reflects how a victim copes and 2) who wants to focus on the ugliness of rape? Neither a reader nor survivor. Much easier to couch the issue and to deflect. The humor is in part a coping mechanism or at the least a device that helps a reader who has been a victim, get through the read. The humor however does not detract from the experience nor the aftermath.
Having read several comments across blogs, it is interesting me that a great deal of the comments talk about everything but how a girl is affected by rape.
Many rape survivors are like Melinda, trying to move on and act normal when they don't feel normal at all, and the rest of the world has no clue how abnormal the survivor feels. The responses to the novel suggests to my thinking how we as a society have difficulty discussing rape and abuse. We don't know how to relate to the survivor.
I bought this book because I work with girls who have been raped, abused and some who are so desperate for the guy, that they end up in situations that spiral out of control like they did for a 14-year-old, Melinda.
*I edited my response to change victim to survivor because while we were victimized, we survived. We do not remain victims.