Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary
Summary: Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.
Final Rating: ♥♥♥ and a half / ♥♥♥♥♥
I’ve been wanting to pick up this book for the longest possible time, and I finally did. I read it in one sitting, because it was extremely short (just under 200 pages) and because it was gripping and fascinating. It deals with several important issues like sexual abuse, depression and suicidal thoughts, so it’s definitely not for the light-hearted. If you’re looking for a nice, fun read… don’t read it. If you’re easily broken by hard-hitting issues like the ones aforementioned, don’t read it. If you like dark, gritty, realistic fiction that’s meaningful and makes you think, this is the perfect book.
I enjoyed the plot. I bet the character’s situation wasn’t an easy thing to embody and present in a way that’s fascinating and entertaining, but Anderson manages to do just this. There are several subplots weaving through the main plot, but the focus lies on the aftermath of the event that triggered Mel’s depression, and her coping methods. The psychological impact of the book was huge, and it made me stop and think about the other Mels in the world, and I sympathized with them greatly. I loved the plot so much that I watched the movie starring Kristen Stewart right after finishing the book (great movie by the way).
However, I was super annoyed that so many of the subplots were left hanging. I didn’t like it. I needed some closure with the end of the book and I didn’t get it. I would have been okay with it if there had been a sequel, but it’s been thirteen years since the book was first published, and a sequel isn’t in the works until yet. I wanted to know what happened with Mel’s parents, with Dave, with her friends. It’s bugging me, which is why I rated the book lower than I would have otherwise.
I feel like Mel’s character was very likable, very easy to sympathize with. She’s depressed, but her depression isn’t romanticized or dramatized like depression is in other such books; consequently, her struggles felt much realer, much easier (and harder) to imagine. I enjoyed her relationship with her art teacher, and I enjoyed how Anderson depicted her daily life while she was coping with her depression. I feel like depicting everyday habits is so important in such books, and it’s rarely ever done. Because Anderson paid a lot of attention to Mel’s daily life, it made Mel a lot more multi-dimensional.
Anderson manages to discuss such emotional issues with humor, sarcasm and wit. I was amazed at how she tackled these issues. I liked how she writes in long-sentences, but doesn’t embellish to the point that it becomes irritating. She writes efficiently, naturally— you can tell she’s not trying too hard, and that it just comes to her.
Would I recommend? Yes
Would I re-read? Perhaps