When I was 11 years old, I was given this book and told to read it. It's not a very big book, but it has quite the impact, and while a book of this length normally would have taken me a few hours to read, it took me almost the whole night. I've read it a handful of times since then (which is good as it does contain themes that was difficult for me to grasp at 11) and it has become one of my favorite books. Melinda Sordino starts off high school with no friends and a secret that's eating her up inside (and making it difficult for her to speak), but it isn't until halfway through the book that you find out what the secret is. In my view it's not so much to build suspense as it is to show her thought process from "I don't want to think about it, maybe if I don't say it happened then it'll go away" to "Yeah, it happened." I think a lot of people can relate to Melinda even if they haven't had the same thing happen because of her feeling like a social outcast. It's a book about a girl who learns to speak up for herself.However, it's not all dark. There are moments of lightheartedness and humor in the book, and Melinda has some hilarious insights about high school and people. Anderson also has a way with language and descriptions. People might not like the end so much because it's not a definite ending (be it "she died tragically" or "she lived happily ever after") but more of an open one. I think it was fitting to the story and to real life. Not everything has a definite end, but there are some resolutions and the hope of more to come. Overall, I found it to be an amazing book. The only thing that keeps me from giving it a full 5 stars is the fact that sometimes the symbolism (especially with the trees) got to be a bit too much.