Speak Essay

1432 words - 6 pages

Psychologists usually agree that the teenage years are among the most difficult periods in one’s life. Most teens are trying to figure out who they are, what they believe, and how they fit into the world around them. Beginning in the late 1970s, a whole genre of fiction, referred to as coming-of-age literature, emerged and serves, at least fore many teens, as believable presentations of young people learning to navigate the difficulties of their lives, often fraught with feelings of rejection, seemingly unresolvable personal turmoil, social problems, school and family issues, etc. Indeed one value of reading is to see and better understand some aspect of ourselves through studying others. The reading of SPEAK, a somewhat controversial book because of its subject mater – rape --, is a worthwhile endeavor in any middle school classroom and offers many valuable life lessons to young teens.
One of the many lessons, and Melinda’s main focus at school, is art. Art is not only a hobby, but also a way to better express oneself. Melinda says, in the beginning of the novel, “Art follow lunch, like dream follows nightmare.” (9). For many kids, having a hobby is an escape from the bad events in their life, whether it is social issues, school issues, or problems at home. With art, Melinda finds a way to escape the torture of the rest of her day. Another remark about art, from Melinda’s art teacher, suggests it as a pleasant subject of the day: “This is where you can find your soul, if you dare.” (10). This statement is true because it is easier for kids to express their feelings through actions or displays rather than words. Through art, Melinda finds a way to let out her feelings as a way to resolve her soul that is slowly breaking apart. One of the most magical moments in the book, and a moment that helped Melinda maintain hope, was when Mr. Freeman said, “This looks like a tree, but it is an average, ordinary, everyday, boring tree. Breathe life into it. Make it bend---trees are flexible, so they don’t snap. Scar it, give it a twisted branch---perfect trees don’t exist. Nothing is perfect. Flaws are interesting. Be the tree.” (153). When Mr. Freeman said this, he was referring to the tree as a person, saying that ordinary people are boring; giving people scars makes them more interesting because perfect people do not exist. This gave Melinda hope because she had many flaws at the time, which had made her depressed. Therefore, people can boost their confidences with art by seeing that flaws are good and they make people more interesting. In Melinda’s experience with art, she was able to display her feelings and let out her broken pieces. Mr. Freeman, her art teacher, helped Melinda rebuild her soul. Without art, Melinda would not have been able to express herself the way she did at the end of the book.
One of the key characteristics of resilient children is having a mentor. A resilient child is a child who is able to bounce back...

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