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Cleveland Speakers

by Laurie Halse Anderson

Melinda, a high school freshman, finds it more and more difficult to speak in this novel that highlights the necessity of finding a way to communicate in order to heal.

The intimidating prospect of a new school is made more daunting when her old friends make it clear they want nothing to do with her and students who don't know her use the wicked arsenal of teen age weapons to make her feel as if she's an outcast.

The previous August at the Senior Party, Melinda was raped and called the police. Although she couldn't bring herself to tell anyone what had happened, her phone call broke the party up, landed several students in trouble with the police, and made Melinda infamous among her peers.

When a former friend of hers starts dating the young man who raped her, Melinda becomes more frantic to find a way to speak. She uses art and her own courage to stop her downward spiral into clinical depression and to overcome a family tradition of communication based solely on post it notes. Only then can she confront her rapist, confide in her friend, and begin healing.

Farrar Straus Giroux, c1999.
Reviewed by C. Kless

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