This is the first time I’ve read anything by Laurie Halse Anderson, and I think she’s brilliant. This was one of the saddest and most moving books I’ve ever read. I can’t imagine the pain of going through an illness like this. I found it difficult to follow Lia’s journey without becoming depressed. girls really go through this and it truly saddens me. I’m so lucky I didn’t have any self-image or self-esteem issues as a teen. This book makes me want to reach out and help the girls who do.
The first thing that jumped out at me when I began this book was the writing. Anderson’s writing is very lyrical and poetic. Sometimes, when wandering through the muddled mind of Lia, I felt like I was listening to a recitation of a Walt Whitman poem… and I love Walt Whitman. Anderson crafts some very beautiful prose. usually, I find this type of writing in books distracting, but she really makes it work. After a couple of chapters to get used to her flow and voice, I was sold. I’m pretty sure I’d read anything she wrote (Speak is on the hold shelf at the library with my name on it this very moment).
Lia is so real and well-written, I feel as if I know her. She’s my next door neighbor. She’s the quiet girl in my German class. She’s the girl who sits alone reading in the cafeteria. I can easily like a character, but the emotional attachment I felt to Lia is something rare. Maybe it’s just easier to get attatched to characters who are in pain. I felt Lia’s pain with her. Anderson helped me understand something I’ve never experienced in any way. It’s so easy for people who don’t have these problems to brush them off or think they’re ridiculous, but I never felt that way about Lia. I loved her and I wanted her to get better. I felt truly sad for all the pain she was going through, whether self-inflicted or not.
This story is heartbreakingly realistic, but also hopeful and inspiring. I would recommend it to anyone, anytime. It’s really a must read for any young-adult female. I think we can all agree that being a teenage girl is hard, probably moreso now than when I was 18 (which was only five years ago). Even if you’ve never faced the difficulties Lia faces, it shouldn’t be hard to relate to her feelings in some way. Everyone feels lost sometimes for different reasons, and it takes a great writer to capture that feeling accurately. Anderson has done a lovely job.