"It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate and a stomachache."
These are the words that begin "Speak," the movie adaptation of Laurie Halse Anderson's award-winning novel airing on Showtime at 11 p.m. Oct. 5 and 2 p.m. Oct. 7.
Kristen Stewart (of "Panic Room") stars as Melinda Sordino, a girl who becomes an outcast after calling the police on an end-of-summer party. She enters high school to find that the students are mean and teachers such as Mr. Neck (Robert John Burke) are ruthless for no particular reason. But what makes things 10 times more difficult for Melinda is the fact that nobody knows the real reason she called the cops -- she had been sexually assaulted by an upperclassman.
The movie does a good job capturing the atmosphere of the book. Though certain parts were cut out -- including many of Melinda's witty comments, the movie remains true to the themes of the book and readers will be delighted to recognize visual details and quotes. Viewers watch Melinda grow in slow, almost tedious scenes in which she becomes aware of her surroundings and regains the ability to speak. Steve Zahn is wonderful as the teacher who helps her find a way to express her feelings through art. Melinda triumphs as she faces her fears in a dramatic conclusion. The movie is an inspirational tale that is not easily forgotten. At the end of the movie there is a public service announcement from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network to reach out to those who are in need of help.
(An interesting note: If you look closely, the author makes a cameo appearance as the cafeteria lady serving mashed potatoes.)
Kristine Starkey is a junior at St. Mary's High School.