Anderson, Laurie. Speak. USA: Penguin Putnam Inc, 1999. Print.
Written by: Laurie Halse Anderson
Reviewed by: Quan Vu
Recommended Audience: High School
Speak tells the story of Melinda Sordino, a ninth grader at Merryweather High School in Syracuse, New York. August before her freshman year, Melinda and her closest friends attend a party with seniors and beer. At the party, Melinda feels uncomfortable and out of place. She gulps down a couple beers before walking outside for some fresh air. While outside, Melinda meets Andy Evans, an attractive senior boy. Andy begins dancing with and kissing Melinda, and Melinda is taken aback but too drunk to say anything. Andy pushes her to the ground and rapes her. In her confusion afterward, Melinda dials 911 and the police arrive at the party, but Melinda finds herself unable to tell anyone what happened. When the entire school discovers that Melinda broke up the party and got some students arrested, her friends stop speaking to her. No one knows that she was raped.
She arrives friendless on her first day of ninth grade and receives angry glares from strangers. She decides that speaking only hurts her, and remains mostly silent. Melinda slips into depression and her grades suffer. She finds an abandoned janitor’s closet and makes it her sanctuary.
Initially, Melinda is befriended by Heather, a new girl from Ohio. However, Heather is eager to be a part of the social scene and she soon joins a clan known as “the Marthas.” Heather realizes that having Melinda as a friend hurts her social reputation, and she tells Melinda that they can no longer spend time together. As Melinda sinks deeper into depression, she begins to skip class. Her parents and teachers notice, but believe that it is just an immature attention-seeking ploy. Only her art teacher, Mr. Freeman, observes Melinda’s depressed behavior. He encourages her to use her voice and shows interest in her artwork. Melinda also befriends her lab partner, David Petrakis. Like Mr. Freeman, David pushes Melinda to speak up.
Author’s website: http://madwomanintheforest.com/youngadult-speak/
Publisher’s website: http://www.us.penguingroup.com/
Author’s interview about speak: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJU7b3C8QMk