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Title: Trauma and Recovery in Young Adult Literature:
Other Titles: A Case study of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak (1999)
Authors: BOUSSAHA Selma, SAADANE Halla
Keywords: psychological trauma, young adult fiction, contemporary trauma theory, identity, breaking silence, post-traumatic growth, Speak.
Issue Date: 2022
Abstract: This dissertation seeks to examine the representation of psychological trauma in young adult literature by analyzing Laurie Halse Anderson’s controversial novel, Speak (1999). Furthermore, it highlights the role young adult fiction plays in providing its targeted readers with a credible depiction of this complex theme. The current study relies on contemporary trauma theory to examine the traumatic experience from the lens of Anderson’s teenage protagonist, Melinda Sordino, by studying its disrupting impact on identity and language and stressing the use of silence and cynicism as primary protective coping mechanisms for this disruption. Moreover, it follows Melinda’s resilient steps toward reclaiming her voice and identity and reaching post-traumatic growth. The study proves Anderson’s ability to tackle the adversity of post-traumatic symptoms through her narrative and emphasizes her message about the importance of breaking silence at the level of individual and community. A close analysis of this novel reveals the ability of young adult genre to address relevant crucial topics that define the daily struggles these teenagers are silently enduring, and to enlighten and guide them through their journey toward adulthood. In addition, it deduces from Melinda’s act of breaking silence and reclaiming her identity the possibility of mending the traumatic wound.
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