Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
If The Golden Compass were never written, Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak would win my “Best Young Adult Novel of All Time” award. The novel is jam-packed with symbols and figurative language to make the word nerd in me giggle with delight. At the same time, the novel is down-to-earth enough to be more accessible to younger readers. Plus, it even pokes fun at the idea of “hammering [a book] to death” by overanalyzing it. As an English teacher, I cannot help but feel a twinge of appreciative guilt for thinking I may have potentially hurt a student’s interest in a book by dissecting it too much. Speak has something for every reader to enjoy, with its dark themes interlaced with its light-hearted and witty (and often sarcastic) tone. Make sure to pick it up soon, so you, too, can fall in love with it, just like I have.