The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B [Book Review]

Book Reviews

coverEvery book lover has read a book that had such an impact in their life that they can read it over and over again. For me, it’s Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, read for the first time in the 8th grade. The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B has the potential to affect a teenager’s life the same way that Speak affected mine.

When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He’s determined to protect and defend her—to play Batman to her Robyn—whatever the cost. But when you’re fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it’s hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a “normal” relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? And that’s not even to mention the small matter of those threatening letters Adam’s mother has started to receive . . .

Adam is a truly wonderful character, a character that you can sympathize with without pitying him. He is a strong, brave boy who not only has to deal with divorced parents, a mother who is getting threatening letters, all of the angst and desire that comes with being a fifteen-year-old boy, but he ALSO has an extreme case of OCD. It pained my heart to read about the amount of times he had to count, or tap his foot, until he “felt right”. Imagine having to feel nauseated by the prospect of walking into your own home without performing a certain ritual. It reminded me of my own OCD tendencies, they can literally take over your life.

Adam, wonderful Adam, deals with all of that and spends the remainder of his day worrying about his mother, his half-brother, Robyn, his father, his Group Therapy friends, and pretty much anyone he knows. He genuinely wants to save everyone and that takes an even greater toll on him than he realizes. Talking is his only form of freedom. When he actually opens up and talks to the group he feels a weight lifted off his shoulders. He finds his voice and the world doesn’t crumble — who’d of thought?

And Adam felt fine. Shockingly, brilliantly fine. Once again, he had told. once again, a relief so pure and powerful rocked him to the core.” (Page 181 of the ARC)

There is something so special about this novel, I can’t even put it into words. It’s the type of story you can’t stop reading. It’s the kind of story that breaks your heart and makes you smile at the same time. I truly believe that every student should be forced to read this book. Every fifteen-year-old should pick up a copy and (hopefully) relate to it enough to let it impact their life.

We’re all unlikely superheroes, we’re all powerful enough to save ourselves.

We’re all free to speak — talking about how we feel and what we’re going through is the only way to get through the hard stuff.

Read this book.

Let it fix you.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Say Something, Anything.


When I was in the eighth grade, my favourite english teacher (Hey Ms. Infanti!! 🙂 ) got us to read the novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Here’s a clip from the 2004 film version of the book – just so you can see what it’s all about.


It was the perfect book to read before going to high school and I am grateful for having read it. Last week I decided to pick up a copy at Chapters to reread it. I think it resonated more with me now than it did when I was fourteen. I think that it affected me more than I ever cared to realize and on more than one level.

There are countless remarks said by Melinda’s art teacher, Mr.Freeman that may have even inspired me to keep writing.

– “This is where you can find your soul, if you dare. Where you can touch that part of you that you’ve never dared to look at before,” – Mr.Freeman talking about Art class (Pg 10).

– “When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time,” – Mr.Freeman (Pg 122).

If you knew me when I was a kid, you’d know that I was very shy and immensely quiet and I am certain that if I hadn’t started to write I would have never found my voice. Dance, sculpting, painting, drawing, sports, music, baking, cooking, writing, are all extensions of YOU. They are all ways in which you can express yourself, ways you can discover who you are. Art and creation are that powerful. Speak proves that and I hope that my book does too.

I’m not going to sit here and say that I am 100% like Melinda’s character or that my high school experience can even parallel hers but I was definitely as quiet as her. I wonder if my parents thought I was weird. I wonder how much it hurt them that I couldn’t talk – not to them or to anyone. I wonder if they know that it wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to talk to them, I was just afraid…

“Maybe I should start talking to Them, maybe a little bit. But what if I say the wrong thing?” – Melinda talking about her parents (Pg 127).

…afraid that I would say the wrong thing. I felt like if I kept my feelings inside, my sadness or insecurities, they would eventually disappear. With other people I was always afraid that my opinions were wrong or that I would upset someone by them. I was always afraid that I would get made fun of or that I would be challenged. I was made fun of a lot and was always afraid to stand up for myself and I didn’t want to tell my parents – I didn’t want to seem like a baby.

So, I kept it inside and started writing. That helped. Creation is a great outlet but it wasn’t until I got really bad anxiety and a migraine so severe that I threw up at school, that my parents told me I HAD to talk to them more. I had to let out my feelings and I did. I’m still shy and a bit passive sometimes, but I have a stronger and more powerful voice than I ever had before (that’s what over 10 years of writing and learning to talk to people will do to you).

Moral of the story: find your VOICE.

You have a voice and it has VALUE.

Let it be HEARD.

Love Always
Vanessa Xo