Margin Notes

Speak-The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll


It’s been at least a decade since I first read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson but the story is one so brilliantly crafted that it has never left me. In every school I have visited this year, I see students reading Speak, transfixed by it, and I know they are rooting for the main character Melinda, just as I did.

Melinda, returning to school in September is the social outcast. She is sometimes ignored and sometimes mocked, and even her best friend rejects her. This wasn’t always Melinda’s life, and it is the aftermath of what happened at a summer party where she was sexually assaulted (this is the part nobody knows) and called 911. All that is known is that the party was busted by police, people were arrested, and the newest rule at Merryweather is that being friends with Melinda is a social death sentence. Alongside the main theme of finding your voice, topics such as the hypocrisy of high schools, self-absorbed parents, and loneliness are also explored.

As with other novels by Laurie Halse Anderson, the internal narration in Speak is one of the most (more…)

Spinning by Tillie Walden


I do not often read graphic novels, but after reading Spinning by Tillie Walden, I was left wondering why not.

This graphic memoir spans almost a decade of Tillie Walden’s life over almost 400 pages, which may sound and look like a lot to students, but her story is so engaging that it is impossible to stop once you start. Words and images combine to transport you to the world of competitive figure skating, which truthfully, sounds quite terrifying (the skating moms alone would have made me run). Walden shares stories of testing, coaches, teammates, performance anxiety and the ways all of this affected both her skating and her understanding of herself.

But, as all good coming of age stories do, Walden’s story touches on many other topics. Woven in against the backdrop of the rink, are Walden’s experiences with bullying, family dynamics, (more…)