This fall I had a 6th grade girl who bought Speak at our book fair. After they left, because I knew the family, I emailed the mom and told her what the book was about so I thought she should read it first so that they could discuss it when the daughter was done.
This is a book that sticks with you for sure, so after I discussed it with this mom I pulled it off the shelf to reacquaint myself with the story. It is so powerful! If I could have my friends with young girls read any book I would have them read this one. What happens to Melinda happens so fast that she didn't even know what was happening to her. Most young girls would not be prepared for this--either to stop it or to deal with it afterwards.
Many of my friend's daughters would not be prepared because they've grown up in a cocoon of safety and family and while they know this kind of thing is out there they don't think it would happen to them, they probably don't think it would even happen to girls in our town. (My husband is a detective in our town and is sitting here while I write this so I ask him how often acquaintance/date rape is reported and he said probably a couple times a month, which I more than I expected him to say). And while many of these girls I know wouldn't be at a party with older boys when they are headed to high school, it can happen.
And I know enough moms that have a little bit of that want of popularity for their daughters that they might let them go off with a friend and not quite know where they are headed. That's when the trouble can happen.
This book can open so much dialogue for mothers and daughters (and mothers and sons). And after reading this article about Laurie Halse Anderson and her experiences talking to boys about this book I feel more strongly about having my own sons read it and discuss it with me.
What are your thoughts about Speak?