Examine the topics that are addressed in the book.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the most important topics that is addressed in Anderson's work is violence against women.  The idea that many women experience violence from another and then a socialized form of aggression as a part of the initial action is seen in Melinda's case.  Both forms of violence help to drive her inward, silencing herself because she has been silenced.  The need to "speak" indicates how women and men need to come together and speak out against violence perpetrated against one gender at the hands of another.

Another social condition that is addressed in the book is the brutal nature of high school.  Melinda's high school experience is shown in a realistic and painful manner.  High school and what adolescents experience in high school are issues that have to be shown in an honest manner if change is to happen.  Melinda's narrative is one in which there is a recognition in how painful high school can actually be for many.  This condition is  a topic raised in the book with the hopes of generating a discussion.

Finally, I think that the idea of people who have been victimized finding a voice and being able to assert themselves is another vital topic to emerge from the book.  Melinda is able to "speak" after a period silence.  The idea of learning to "speak" is a topic that must be raised in order to facilitate greater understanding.  Individuals who are hurt and victimized must find empowerment through themselves and the society around them in order to heal and prevent the same victimization to happen to others.  This topic is addressed in a thorough manner in the work.

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