Words are beautiful
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is one of the best novels I’ve ever read. I love it. Every line, every sentence, every paragraph is so beautifully penned.
I watched the movie last month and I only finished reading the book few days ago. Obviously the book beats the movie hands down, though the latter wasn’t too bad.
Here are some excerpts and quotes that I really liked from the book –
“You have to know what you stand for, not just what you stand against.”
“I cut class, you cut class, he, she, it cuts class. We cut class, they cut class. We all cut class. I cannot say this in Spanish because I did not go to Spanish today. Gracias a dios. Hasta luego.“
“Homework is not an option. My bed is sending out serious nap rays. I can’t help myself. The fluffy pillows and warm comforter are more powerful than I am. I have no choice but to snuggle under the covers.”
“It’s easier not to say anything. Shut your trap, button your lip, can it. All that crap you hear on TV about communication and expressing feelings is a lie. Nobody really wants to hear what you have to say.”
“I know my head isn’t screwed on straight. I want to leave, transfer, warp myself to another galaxy. I want to confess everything, hand over the guilt and mistake and anger to someone else. There is a beast in my gut, I can hear it scraping away at the inside of my ribs. Even if I dump the memory, it will stay with me, staining me. My closest is a good thing, a quiet place that helps me hold these thoughts inside my head where no one can hear them.”
“Why not spend that time on art: painting, sculpting, charcoal, pastel, oils? Are words or numbers more important than images? Who decides this? Does algebra move you to tears? Can plural possessives express the feelings in your heart? If you don’t learn art now, you will never learn to breathe!”
“This is where you can find your soul if you dare. Where you can touch that part of you that you’ve never dared look at before. Do not come here and ask me to show you how to draw a face. Ask me to help you find the wind.”
“Art without emotion is like chocolate cake without sugar. It makes you gag. The next time you work on your trees, don’t think about trees. Think about love, or hate, or joy, or pain- whatever makes you feel something, makes your palms sweat, or your toes curl. Focus on that feeling.”
“When people don’t express themselves, they die on piece at a time. You’d be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside- walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer or a mack truck to come along and finish the job. It’s the saddest thing I know.”
“Hawthorne wanted snow to symbolise cold, that’s what I think. Cold and silence. Nothing quieter than snow. The sky screams to deliver it, a hundred banshees flying on the edge of the blizzard. But once the snow covers the ground, it hushes as still as my heart.”
“I have never heard a more eloquent silence.”
“The moon shone on the leaves. I could see the lights, like stars strung in the pines.”
“A cloud cloaked the moon. Shadows looked like photo negatives.”
“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.”
“I draw them without thinking – flight, flight, feather, wing. Water drips on the paper and the birds bloom in their light, their feathers expanding promise.”
“I look at my homely sketch. It doesn’t need anything. even through the river in my eyes I can see that. It isn’t perfect and that makes it just right.”
“I have survived. I am here. Confused, screwed up, but here. So, how can I find my way? Is there a chain saw of the soul, an ax I can take to my memories or fears?”
“The tears dissolve the last block of ice in my throat. I feel the frozen stillness melt down through the inside of me, dripping shards of ice that vanish in a puddle of sunlight on the stained floor. Words float up.”
“How seeds get planted: This is actually cool. Some plants spit their seeds into the wind. Other make seeds yummy enough for birds to eat, so they get pooped out on passing cars. Plants make way more seeds than they need, because they know that life is not perfect and all the seeds won’t make it. Kind of smart, when you think about it.
What seeds need to germinate: Seeds are inefficient. If the seed is planted too deep, it doesn’t warm up at the right time. Plant it too close to the surface and a crow eats it. Too much rain and the seed moulds. Not enough rain and it never gets started. Even if it does manage to sprout, it can be choked by weeds, rooted up by a dog, mashed by a soccer ball, or asphyxiated by car exhaust.
It’s amazing anything survives.
How plants grow: Quickly. Most plants grow fast and die young. People get seventy years, a bean plant gets four months, maybe five. Once the itty-bitty baby plant peeks out of the ground, it sprouts leaves, so it can absorb more sun. Then it sleeps, eats, and sunbathes until it’s ready to flower – a teenage plant. This is a bad time to be a rose or a zinnia or a marigold, because people attack with scissors and cut off what’s pretty. But plants are cool. If the rose is picked, the plant grows another one. It needs to bloom to produce more seeds.”
I wish I can write like that.
You might have to read the book to understand what some of these mean. Especially the symbolism about seeds and trees.
But still, this is an amazing book and I highly recommend it (Y)
Okay my hands are effing tired because I typed all the above word for word, while looking at the book. Not easy. But all these is too great to miss out 😀
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