laurie halse anderson

With the amount of time I spend in bookstores and libraries, you would think I’d be pretty up-to-date on new releases by my favorite authors.  Somehow, though, Laurie Halse Anderson managed to publish not one but two new novels that I knew nothing about until recently.  

Anderson is apparently now the author of six young adult novels; I’ve read – and incredibly enjoyed – four.  Anderson’s greatest strength is in the development of her protagonists; although you could characterize them all as complex, intelligent young women attempting to make sense of the world around them, each has a distinctive voice and story.   Fever, 1793 is a historical novel set during the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia that I found almost impossible to put down. In Catalyst, Kate, the main character, struggles with her mother’s death and her father’s expectations as she tries to will herself through her senior year.   Prom is, in my opinion, Anderson’s weakest novel and therefore least memorable, but still an enjoyable read about a girl who finds herself in the role of reluctant prom planner.

But the reason Anderson is irrevocably on my top authors list is Speak.  A darkly humorous novel, Speak captures both the traumatic and the ridiculous that is high school.  The story is told through the eyes of Melinda, a freshman who is starting the year friendless and uncommunicative for reasons initially unknown to the reader.  As an outsider, she becomes an observer of high school society, and her narrative is witty, insightful, and, at times, heartbreaking.

Having discovered their existence in time to put them on my Christmas list, Anderson’s most recent novels, Chains and Twisted, are now sitting on my shelf waiting for me.  I’m looking forward to tackling them in the next few weeks.  Admittedly, my expectations are high, but I’m pretty confident they’ll be fulfilled.

~ by Molly on January 18, 2009.

One Response to “laurie halse anderson”

  1. […] organization — the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction has been given to Laurie Halse Anderson for Chains.  As a big fan of Anderson’s, I’m always happy to see her receive […]

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