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book review

Laurie Halse Anderson's young-adult novel, Speak, was a game-changer when it was originally published in 1999. So, too, is the new graphic-novel version, with artwork by Ontario artist Emily Carroll.

Ninth-grader Melinda Sordino was raped at a party, and Speak is about the agonizing months of shock, isolation and self-harm that follow. Trauma manifests itself in different ways and for Melinda it's a highly visual experience.

In addition to practising art, her inner voice is steeped in metaphor and simile. Carroll doesn't adapt the text as much as she gives life to all the horrific and beautiful pictures already living inside Anderson's words. The composition is breathtaking, with most panels constructed from black space or overlaid on top of larger illustrations; each page stands alone as its own affecting vignette. This is a stunning, moving and vital artistic partnership.

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