Use Of Characterization In Laurie Halse Anderson's Books

1546 words - 7 pages

Laurie Halse Anderson has written for all ages, but her most popular books are those written for young adults. These books include Speak, Catalyst, Prom, and Wintergirls. A common trait found in all of these books is her spectacular use of characterization. Some reviewers have criticized Catalyst and Fever 1793 for weaknesses in characterization and plotting but all of Laurie Halse Anderson's books remain highly popular with young readers, who identify with Anderson's honest portrayal of adolescence. Susan Butterworth said, “The first-person narrative voice, keen observation, and details of time and place distinguish Anderson's young adult novels” (Gale). Laurie Halse Anderson’s amazing ...view middle of the document...

She was later divorced and married Scott Larrabee in 2004.
Her first book, Speak, which was written in 1999, came from a nightmare she had along with traumatic experiences she had in high school involving tight social cliques. Parts of Catalyst, written in 2002, also have roots in her life. For example, the character, Kate Malone, like Anderson, has a minister as a father and a love of running. Anderson is also influenced by the kids she sees while visiting high schools. She observed their lifestyles and interviews many, especially guys for her book, Twisted, which was written from a boy’s point-of-view in 2007.
Anderson’s use of her life in her books allows her to better write them from the first person. When she draws upon her own experiences to portray another, it makes the scenes more relatable to teens that may have gone through similar experiences. The use of fact to write a book is wonderful, even when writing fiction, because it makes it seem more realistic which, in turn, can make it more enjoyable, and one’s own life is fact. Therefore, Anderson’s use of her life in her books allows her ability of writing in an effective first person to exist.
Another thing that allows Anderson’s ability of writing in first person to be so effective is her weaving of comedy with tragedy. Most of her novels deal with some serious issues, including rape, suicide, and eating disorders. However, Anderson is somehow able to add humor to these ordeals. She accredits this to her family, whom always made “witty observations and wry remarks” about bad situations when Anderson was a kid. This allows her to write about awful occurrences and still have teens like her books. An example of this is shown in Speak as a part of the main character’s internal monologue. “I open up a paper clip and scratch it across the inside of my left wrist. Pitiful. If a suicide attempt is a cry for help, then what is this? A whimper, a peep?” (Anderson 87). Janet Alsup says about these words, “This scene demonstrates the depth of her emotional pain and also reveals the likeability of the Melinda, who despite her difficulties, displays an ironic, subtle humor throughout the book” (158).
This power of making something so deep and severe somehow light-hearted is amazing and definitely leaves an impact on anyone who reads these books. Speak impacts readers the most and Anderson agrees, saying “I am most proud of the impact of Speak, because it has helped so many survivors find the courage to talk about what happened and start to heal and grow” (81). This impact proves that Anderson’s weaving of comedy and tragedy is one of the things that make her ability of writing in first person convincing.
Another one of the things that makes Anderson’s ability of writing in a convincing first person is the extreme differences in each book. This includes differences in characters, atmospheres, and voice. Each main character form each book is completely individual with both personalities and...

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