This past school year I read out loud Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson to my 8th graders home room. I don't really like young adult novels, I know I teach middle school, but this book awed me with its wonderfulness. Speak is told from the perspective of a witty, bright ninth grade girl filled with angst and anger. She has reason for the anger; she was assaulted by a creepy predatory senior guy. What follows is her year of coping with this incident and her perspective on mean girls and clueless teachers. So that’s the book. Now for the movie. At the end of this school year we watched the independent film of the movie with the kids. It’s PG-13, but ok for 8th graders, I thought. When you love a book, you really want the movie to not ruin your view of the book. My favorite movie interpretation of a book is Of Mice and Men, 1992, John Malkovich version. Speak may be coming in second. This movie exceeded my expectations. The lead, Melinda played by Kristen Stewart, is great. The cool, hippy art teacher played by Steve Zahn is hilarious and the whole movie is moving and authentic. I actually wanted to watch it again after I saw it with the kids. Well, it is hard to concentrate when you are watching a movie with 50 8th graders but still.
So I suggest you (meaning female readers of this blog) read the book and then watch the movie. You will probably not be able to find it at a video store and will need Netflix or some such online DVD .